Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Winding up this Christmas week of "sleep in Heavenly peace" drew me to the lullaby, "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep." I sometimes "google" words just to see what will come up. So today after a search I bring you an incredible summary of Mary Fisher's "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," speech given Nov. 30 to some 2,000 participants in the "Global Summit on AIDS on the Church" sponsored by Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA.

I've been concerned over AIDS for many years. I remember the early years of the detection of the disease and its spread. I was a designer for an import/export company that had items made in Haiti. I had to travel to that plant a couple of times. AIDS was new to the scientific world then and Haiti was one of the first countries to have massive outbreaks. I also remember when the first patient positive with AIDS ended up in my husband's medical office. I was so proud of him. The staff was nervous and showed it. He held a special meeting after hours and told us he took an oath to treat sick people and there were no clauses of exception. If anyone could not treat every patient with honor and respect he wanted their resignation.

I also recall a professional affluent man who died after a long illness. Then his widow became ill. She kept her illness a secret until she was so sick she had to be hospitalized. She requested no one from the church be notified. It seems her husband had been unfaithful and had gotten AIDS and she was infected from his adulterous actions. I was so sad that we had not presented ourselves as trustworthy and this innocent precious woman could not bring us into her last months of life.

So.....yes "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" fits wonderfully with heavenly peace and God's call on our lives. May I present Mary Fisher, UN Special Social Representative:

Given the fact that the AIDS virus has found some forty million people and left in its wake 16 million (or so) orphans, numbers are bound to be part of the story. But massive numbers can also stymie helpful responses. Big, grim numbers may evoke more sighs than prayers. A reasonable person may conclude that he is helpless against such a tidal wave of suffering. If she knew the numbers on AIDS, Pollyanna would be hospitalized for clinical depression.
Numbers may convince us that doing nothing is nothing short of doing evil. But we must not imprison ourselves with the belief that the numbers are too big and we are too small to make a difference. Because the truth is, you and your congregations can make a difference far greater than the statistics that measure this plague.

I was a young mother, two preschoolers playing near my phone, the hour I learned that I was HIV-positive. It was 1991. Everyone infected with AIDS was headed for the grave. We knew it. Our doctors knew it. We all knew we were a sorry company of pilgrims marching to our deaths. So I spent those early years doing the only common-sense thing I could do: preparing to die.
The first two collections of my early speeches, published in 1995 and 1996, are full of death and funeral meditations. I started journals for my sons so they would know I had loved them. I wrote and rewrote wills and worried deeply about guardianships. I took on dying as I took on everything: as a project. I accepted it, organized it and planned for it.
After nearly a year of angst, I decided to speak out publicly. Since I had only a short while to live, I needed to make an impact fast. Besides, if people didn’t like what I said, what could they do – kill me? So I took to the stage with the hope that a dying woman could make a difference for the living.

Early on, I and others expected charismatic leaders would bring to us what Martin Luther King brought to the American Civil Rights movement. But it didn’t happen. The church that had birthed powerful preachers like King was eerily silent, often judgmental, almost never our champion. Without spiritual support, hope became a fragile creature.

And without a strong leader carrying strong messages, even since 1996 when life-prolonging drugs turned dying back into living, hope faded. We have drugs, but Africa is still poor, Asia is still in denial, America has pursued other wars. Young people in America think AIDS has been cured. Communities of color, of women, of immigrants, of drug users, of trafficked sex workers, of the rural poor and urban ghettoes – all have something in common: They lack prestige, they lack power, and they therefore they lack hope. What they do not lack is AIDS.
When the church has stood tall and spoken the truth, despots and tyrants fell in nation after nation. From Poland to South Africa, congregations were transformed into freedom-seeking crowds. But we are today creeping into this 21st century facing the greatest health crisis in human history, so far, without a spiritually persuasive voice or a broad, church-based movement. Perhaps today marks the beginning of a new era.
This ends part 1 of Mary Fisher's "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep." Imagine if she is right: the church is the main hope of overcoming these health epidemics. Oh that does indeed sound like the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.


Chatty Kelly said...

Your husband sounds like a man of such honor!

The church is quiet on aids because many view it as "getting what you deserve" because of homosexuality. Yet of course, God is the only judge - we should leave it up to him. Because we all deserve nothing. So thankful that my judge (God) is a merciful one.

sailorcross said...

Hi Kay!!

Working within the medical field, I do see patients with the AIDS virus. I still remember the first patient, many years ago. We didn't know much about this disease at that time, and yes, it was a little frightening.

I am glad to report that things have progressed socially in this aspect--at least in the office that I work in.

My church is very active in giving to AIDS projects both in Cambodia and West Africa, and have taken missions trips to both countries in order to help build facilities to treat AIDS patients.

But, I do know that many churches are quiet on this subject, and I think it is exactly as Kelly has stated.

What many people do not realize is that many of the people affected with this virus are children--innocent children who were born with this disease.

And also as Kelly stated--are we to judge people based on a disease? God is the judge of all, and I also am thankful that He is a merciful judge.


© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.