Tuesday, 20 January 2009

HIV in the church - where it should be!

Of the many blessings that we saw at special service of blessing and the marriage reception for Anil as he married Sandhya was this: there were so many people in the group who had HIV.

God's family is very big - and the right place for people with HIV is in the church. What a blessing to see people living with HIV participating in the communion. To see people living with HIV blessing the bride and groom. To know that people living with HIV were helping out with the many arrangements that went into this marriage.

Of course, one factor for so many being there is that the bride is their beloved Sandhya, who is a nurse who is serving people who have HIV. But beyond that, I think it marks for me a turning point. A time when we are seeing the doors of the church start to open and welcome people.

We have a long way to go, of course, but looking back on this weekend, we can only thank God for what He has done.

In our country today, every church should have members who have HIV. Not because we want new people to get the disease. But because it is the business of the church, the very reason for its being, to be the body of Jesus Christ. This body must include those who have HIV.

There is no shortage of people with HIV in our country. If we do not have a single known person with HIV in our church it can only mean two things:

1. We are basically comatose. We are not out with the good news. We are not changing lives. We are not seeing Jesus touch others through us - and seeing people come into a life-giving relationship with Him - and become brothers and sisters of the sinners-saved-by-grace who we are.

2. We are bound by fear. People may be coming to the Lord, but we are too afraid to open up and tell about their needs. How much we need to be real with each other - to really experience what it means to be brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Both reasons are all too common.

But the good news is the both can be changed. We serve a God who specializes in turning grumbling bumbling folks into people who have changed the world. Same folks. Same God. Lots of hope!

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