Thursday, 24 August 2017

Unclean

‘I died’, he told me.  “I was only a skeleton and I died several times that year.”  

This is not the first person who has told us that he or she has ‘died’ before.  Rwanda is just such a place where the contradictions of death and life seem to dance with one another instead of destroying each other.  

I assume that I would have ‘died’ as well if I had to spend an entire year in a typical African hospital.

Eric was there the entire year shortly after being diagnosed with Aids.  He spent the year bed ridden as he watched his body slowly waste away leaving his face sunken and his cheek bones prominent; a fixture that he still wears with a smile.  

Miraculously Eric survived and he left the hospital with a renewed sense of gratefulness and hope.  

Shortly after, however, he experienced persecution for his ‘unclean’ condition.  His persecution came from the religious.  

We have heard stories from our co-workers who work with women coming out of sex trafficking who tell us that in some churches, those who have been deemed sinners have a section in church service they have to sit at.

A lot of time these are teenage girls, or people suffering from Aids.

Separate.

A subtle reminder of their lack of 'purity'  

Religion has often been infatuated with separating the pure from the impure and in trying to do so has often disguised hate while calling it holiness. 

So much theology has been built off of the assumption that If something clean touches something unclean then it becomes unworthy.  

The old testament law largely assumes that our current state is susceptible to impurity and  therefore un-exceptable to the divine.

Maybe this is why Paul refers to the law as a veil; a veil that keeps some who “diligently study the scriptures” to “not have the word in them” and to completely miss “hearing God’s voice and seeing his form” (John 5:37-39). This is a scary thought but should come as no surprise.  

Religion has always offered an easy hiding place for Satan, trying to convince us that God’s set apartness is actually his separateness.

Maybe that’s why we find Isaiah in Isaiah 6 panicked when he finds himself in the presence of the Lord.  

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!” He says, “Because I am a man of unclean lips.”

His assumption is that his unclean state disqualifies him for God’s presence.

Immediately, however, “one of the seraphim flew to him with a burning coal (representing the presence of God in Jewish tradition), and touched his lips saying "your iniquity is taken away.”  

Our state of "purity" has little to do with our state of acceptance.  It's just not the point.  

And then there is Jesus who seems to operate off of an entirely different set of assumptions. 

To him it seems that it wasn't the ‘clean’ avoiding the ‘unclean’ that the world needs, but rather the unclean being touched by the 'clean' that it needs.  

He shows us that it isn't 'heaven' that needs protecting (Rev 21:25); but rather that it is 'Hades' whose gate "will not prevail"(Mt 16:18).

All that we thought was ‘seperate’,‘impure’ or ‘unworthy’ is being reconciled to himself in Christ (2 Cor 5:19 Rom 8:37-39). 

For some of us religion which has a low view of Humanity will turn out to be the biggest obstacle  we have to trusting a God who has a high view of Humanity.

Today Eric lives happily with his wife and children.  He leads a church in his impoverished community and works in a ministry that tries to de-mystify the prejudices of people living with AIDS.  

This past month he was brought an infant who had been abandoned because of stigma.

What did he do?  

His family took it in as their own. 

For someone deemed ‘unclean’ and so familiar with death he certainly has a lot of life to give.

The world will be changed by such as these.






Thursday, 13 July 2017

Monday, 17 April 2017

Favorite Pictures 2016-2017

Some of our favorites from the last 12 months or so.  Makes us smile...