Prepare for the Sculptor

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Isaiah 64:1-9

This Sunday Christians are invited to shout “Happy New Year!” as we enter the Season of Advent, which is the beginning of the Christian Year. During the Season of Advent we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child. We prepare our homes with decorations. We prepare our stomachs to eat tasty food! We prepare our budgets so that we remain faithful stewards throughout this and every season, striving to live within and not beyond our means. We prepare our hearts by joining God on an introspective journey. Is my heart ready to receive the Christ child? Are other things – idols, ideas, grievances, jealousies – squatting in his rightful place? The Season of Advent invites us to dwell in the midst of this question and rightfully order our internal house so that we are ready to receive our King.

As I prepare to welcome the Christ child I am struck by these words from the Isaiah contained within this week’s text, “We are all the work of your hand” (Isa 64:8). We are all the product – the creation – of God’s sculpting. We are all God’s children, but not all of us have access to the same resources – education, medicine, nutrition, shelter, fresh water – as others, simply because of where and to whom we were born.

During Advent I commit to pray daily for my brothers and sisters in Africa who are impacted by malaria. Malaria is caused by a parasite, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. This mosquito flies and feeds at night. When an infected mosquito bites a person, the parasite enters the bloodstream and heads for the liver, where it multiplies. It then re-enters the bloodstream, attacking red blood cells. Typically, someone with malaria experiences a high fever, chills, joint pain and headaches. Left untreated, symptoms eventually advance to organ failure.

Malaria is a global health problem, with over 200 million infections and killing more than 600,000 people every year. Every 60 seconds a child dies of malaria. Malaria disproportionately affects young children and pregnant women. The people of The United Methodist Church – and furthermore people everywhere! – have the unique opportunity to put discipleship into action to make a difference in the lives of our global neighbors.

Making a difference requires an integrated strategy to fight malaria. As a life-saving ministry, Imagine No Malaria aims to empower the people of Africa to overcome malaria’s burden. INM fights malaria with a comprehensive model that includes prevention (insecticide-treated bed nets, draining standing water, residential spraying), treatment (Rapid Diagnostic Tests, geographic-specific medication), education (what malaria is and why you must protect your family), and communication (UMC radio stations and mobile technology spreading information about malaria).

We are all the work of God’s hand. We all deserve healthy lives. If we work together, then we can make healthy lives – that seem like only a dream to our brothers and sisters in malaria-stricken lands – a reality.

I invite you to join me in praying for our brothers and sisters in Africa. And if you feel so led, please consider adding your financial support to help end malaria. A gift of $10 saves a life by providing prevention, treatment, education, and communication. A gift of $10 gifts life. I am inviting the Tuskawilla congregation to support this global health initiative through daily prayer and the gift of $1/day for a total of $25 during the Season of Advent. I invite you as well!  Gifts can be made by visiting ImagineFlorida. Please join us in prayer and giving during this season as we celebrate Christ’s gift to the world and join him in gifting health to our global community.

November 30 – For those longing to make a difference

December 1 – In celebration of our connection to our sisters and brothers all over the world

December 2 – For inspiration to join Jesus in his mission to love and to heal

December 3 – For boldness to act and respond like Jesus

December 4 – To dream of a world with no more malaria

December 5 – For our imaginations and resources to create such a place

December 6 – In gratitude of our God who offers life

December 7 – For discernment for how God will lead us to offer his abundant life to others

December 8 – For our healing

December 9 – For those who long to be healed

December 10 – For our sight to focus on God’s vision

December 11 – For those with sight who cannot see past sadness and sickness

December 12 – For knowledge that will become a resource to conquer fear

December 13 – For those with many resources and fearful viewpoints to be opened and transformed

December 14 – For our stewardship to be a blessing to others

December 15 – For those with money and solely practice self-centered spending

December 16 – In gratefulness of our God who unites people of all ages, races, and nations

December 17 – For those who do not believe that what happens to one will happen to all

December 18 – For God’s mercy and compassion as we become better neighbors in our global community

December 19 – For empathy as we learn the plight of God’s people devastated by malaria

December 20 – To participate in joyful giving and big-hearted involvement

December 21 – For the parents who nurse ailing children

December 22 – For the children who nurse ailing parents

December 23 – For the communities that claim God’s hope despite their crippling by a curable disease

December 24 – For the gifts of the doctors, nurses, scientists, and faith leaders committed to the health and wholeness of all

December 25 – In celebration of all that has been stewarded to eradicate malaria.