Each one of is part of a family. We may be estranged, we may be disfunctional, we may be 'boringly good' (sadly a very small percentage it seems) - but we have been born into a family - and grow into various relationships as time goes on.
This is right and good. From the beginning God knows that it is not good for humans to be alone.
But over all this goodness lie many shadows.
We carry the seeds of our own selfishness around with us. The love that we should be giving is usually squandered on meeting our own 'needs.' Furthermore, we expect so much from our 'near and dear ones.' By their very closeness - and our perceptions of what we have 'done for them' - we have raised a very high bar. Instead of appreciating the love we receive (fractured and small though it may be at times) - we are dissatisfied and angry.
And then there is the fact that when someone close to us hurts us - the wounds go especially deep. It may be that our 'guard is down' - it may be just the horrible feeling of being rejected by people we trusted. Fact is that if we are honest with ourselves, most of us are hurting, and often it is from our own most 'intimate strangers.'
Its not by accident that Jesus tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves. We often forget that our neighbours start with those who live with us - they are even closer than the ones next door.
And then you add on a layer of experience of having HIV/AIDS. The challenges are huge for people living with the infection - or family members are living with and (hopefully) caring for another member who has HIV.
Once a year we take a group of our HIV Positive Friends away for a weekend retreat. We call it the Family Bible Camp and we spend time learning from scripture how we can live our lives. How we can forgive and grow. How we can be renewed.
Last year we had over 80 participants all told. It was great - but also a huge challenge to manage so many.
This year we want to open things up. We are holding a 1 day special time for families affected by HIV. This includes children, youngsters, singles, marrieds, widows, those who are seperated - the whole spectrum of people. God loves us all and has specific plans for the way we can live. We are looking forward to a wonderful time of worship together, powerful teaching, small group discussions and sharing, games, fellowship over food. It promises to be a cracker!
The programme is just a week away. May 1st is looming large. A lot remains to be done. Prayers are needed greatly as we battle through a fierce summer heat.