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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Partying with Pat and Jesus

If Jesus threw a Birthday Party for himself, I’m sure he’d have it in the AIDS clinic of Nyahuka Health Center. Pat with help from the team managed to transform the clinic today with some colorful folding foil decorations and a Christmas cloth, cokes, music, cinnamon rolls and muffins. There was something surreal about scrutinizing rashes and palpating spleens while carols blared from her boom box. Jesus says that if you want to visit or feed or clothe Him, then look for the Least of These. Pray for our team to remember that as desperate people and illness do not take a holiday. Maria’s orphaned infant Nightie was re-admitted yesterday on death’s doorstep, ashen and limp with dehydration. But today she’s revived on therapy. I am often reminded of the title of a good friends’ book (Maria Garriott) about ministry in the inner city: A Thousand Resurrections. Nightie, for one. Rascally active toddlers gaining the energy and bulk of ARV’s. Today Scott called me into the ultrasound room to witness the discovery of triplets in a bulging abdomen. The mom gasped at the news, but was happy. The last set to be born around here came yesterday for check-ups, all thriving at 2.9 kg (which means they’ve each nearly tripled!!). Little victories, repeated resurrections, glimpses of hope.

Christmas, the Bible’s Christmas, is not a mellow story. Simeon warns the new parents: this child will be spoken against, his destiny will be for the rise but also the fall of many, a sword will pierce your own soul. Soon innocent babies perish in a full-scale slaughter and the behind-the-scenes battle is seen in Revelation 12. Christmas is a story of conflict. When Infinity Incarnates, evil reacts with wrath. The fleshing out of God’s presence disturbs the forces of the universe.

Somehow today’s party enfolds epic conflict with baked goods and songs. Babies’ lives are at stake. The people of the Kingdom are struggling to save them. It’s a lot of work to listen to and consider and prescribe wisely for 71 patients, let alone to make sure they all get a treat and a coke. Most won’t see the reality of what is happening but just be satisfied with sweets, but we know that somehow Christmas makes it all fit together, the resurrected hopes of one family and the ultimate freedom from death’s destructive power. Amen.

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