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Friday, December 04, 2015

Dec 4: Remembering a Life Lost

December 4th is always a somber reminder for us, that as we enter the season of Advent the anticipation of Life is tangled in the anguish of death.  Eight years ago, on December 4th, our best friend in Uganda died of Ebola.  Dr. Jonah Kule had contracted the disease before we knew the mystery epidemic stemmed from a previously unknown form of the virus, and died in an isolation tent a few days later.  Those were dark hours in our lives, of grief and fear.  Even now, so many years later, I feel the weight of that loss for his wife Melen, his children, the district where he was a powerful symbol of hope and change, for the country of Uganda, for the Kingdom of God.  And for us.

That epidemic pales in comparison to the West African epidemic of 2014/15, but as humans the personal connection to loss cuts more deeply than the impersonal piling of numbers.  It takes one's breath away to think that each of the 11,300 deaths there feels as sorrowful to God and to their families as Jonah's has to us.

But that sorrow is the context in which the rescue of Christmas makes sense.  This is not a G-rated happy story.  This is war.  Behind the manger-scene there is an evil that steals life, and we worship a God who entered human flesh to win life back.

Tonight pray for Melen, and for Masika, Biira, Magga, Keren, Sarah and Jonah (Jr).  And as you think back in mourning, look forward in hope as well, hope of reunion, of the seed that died and the new life that has come since then, of a final victory where tears are no more.  Then let that sense of loss compel us all on to "not love our lives to the death" (Rev 12).  In memory.

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