Monday, December 06, 2010


this morning we lit our second advent candle. and as i read through the reasons to celebrate advent and the scripture readings, i couldn't help finding my own heart filled with hope...

last tuesday, we had a lady come into clinic with four of her eight children. we have seen her often, and her story is sadly not that different from ones i have written here before. her husband left her for another woman, and now comes back only to get her pregnant before leaving again. we first met her when she came in with her youngest baby who we help with formula. a little while after that, we met her eight year old daughter, who is slightly bigger than her three year old daughter. after examining her, we were able to hear a slight swish with her heart beat and what we believe to be a heart murmur. although we are unsure of the exact type and size of the murmur, we are looking into getting her further testing as it is obviously affecting her growth and nutrition. so i handed this mama our last bag of food along with some milk and a protein substance for her three year old who is also showing signs of malnutrition, and knelt to pray with her. but i couldn't help but wonder yet again at the injustice and oppression that so many families here face...

yesterday in clinic, our last prenatal patient of the day was a young mama who i have gotten to know as she has come for her prenatal care. she always has a smile on her face, and her two daughters, although not richly dressed, are always clean, tidy, and happy as they bounce through the door, often singing and dancing around their mama's legs. she will quietly hush them, reminding them gently to sit quietly and wait while smoothing down their hair or patting their legs. one week she talked to me about another patient who was in distress in her pregnancy and i had talked to about getting to the hospital. this mama told me that she was a neighbor to the woman and that she and her husband worked hard, but got paid little and truly struggled to make ends meet; she told me that she helped the neighbors' two little boys with food often and offered her willingness to help however she could in getting her the care she needed. i had always assumed that this woman and her family had means, but yesterday her story poured out: she came in, pale and complaining of premature labor pains.... her smile was strained as she explained that she didn't feel well, and as i prodded a little deeper, she started to tell me how they were struggling to make ends meet and worried that they were also going to lose the house they were borrowing from a family member. their corn that they planted had all fallen over in the landslides we had earlier this year, and now they had to buy all their food and corn. with her sick, her husband had decided to stay back and help her with the chores that required heavy lifting (pretty much all of them - collecting firewood, bringing water up from the river about a half mile away, carry 40 pound bags of corn to make her tortillas with, etc.) instead of going to the coastal lands to find work. i reminded her that God has everything in His control - to which she agreed - and again bowed my head to pray as we handed her a bag of food. as i placed my hand on her belly, though, and started the prayer, i noticed the tears start to stream down her face...

and i wondered if this woman of God who has given so much to so many was now herself at a point where she wondered if her God of justice was truly big enough to take care of her and her family.... if she wondered if this God of mercy and compassion truly saw the helpless state of His poor children.... if this loving Father could wrap His arms around her and hold her close for just a minute and let her escape from the pressures that this life has piled on top of her.

because i would. and i do.

and then i read the reason for advent. the writer of the certain article i read about the place of advent in the christian calendar explained that in times past, advent has always had an element of personal repentance to it, but that the theme changed in the western church to emphasize the anticipation and the hope of the coming Christ. he reminded us of the mindset of the jewish people at that time... they were poor, downtrodden, and captives. they had a history of kings that led them far from God and made poor choices which led to enslavement, torture and death. they were crying out from years and generations of pain, sorrow, and abuse. they wanted a savior, they wanted justice, they wanted hope!!

and in the midst of that, came the promised savior. the author implored the readers to please not downplay what this meant to the people at the time. Jesus' deliverance from personal sins would come later on in the story with his death and ressurection (which we celebrate at lent), but for the moment, we cannot fail to ignore what the yearning for and coming of this savior was about; as americans, we naturally emphasize our individual freedoms -and that plays out in our faith - but these people were asking for a communal freedom, a deliverance from physical captivity, a breaking free from the oppression, justice for the house of Isreal and the people of Judah... someone to redeem them. no, it would not come in the exact way they thought it would, but that does not mean that the answer to their cries did not come! yes, later they would realize this in full as Jesus' life came to a climax in the spiritual freedom that was found in his work on the cross, but let us never forget that God's heart is also still filled with a zeal for justice, freedom, deliverance from oppression and abuse, and redemption for countries, tribes, families... all mankind.

so, i looked out my kitchen window this morning at the surrounding mountains full of people crying out for justice, for freedom from poverty, healing after years of abuse, and hope in the midst of their circumstance. people much like the people of Israel were so many years ago...

and just as hope came to Israel and all people, it comes to us again this year.... the hope of freedom, the hope of justice, the hope of deliverance and redemption.

all this realized in the birth of a little baby named Jesus.

may we never ever forget.


Blogger Sam said...

That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.

8:10 AM  

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