It may be hard to believe that Advent is already upon us since we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet! Here at UUMC, we’re starting Advent one week early on Sunday, November 24. During this Advent season, worship will be filled with beautiful music and reflective liturgy. We’ll be reading scripture from the prophet Isaiah and hearing the Antiphons each Sunday—Antiphons are ancient reflections about the coming of Christ. We’ll also spend time learning about the reality of malaria since we are dedicating 100% of our Christmas Eve offering to Imagine No Malaria. There’s even a bonus—our Finance Team has voted to match the Christmas Eve offering with money from our General Operating Fund! As we begin the Advent journey of preparing our hearts and minds for the birth of the Christ-child, I invite you to meditate on this devotion from the Imagine No Malaria Campaign.
See you in worship!
Imagining a New Future
Joel 2:1-2 “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near - a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.”
The prophet Joel is calling upon his listeners to use their imaginations. He asks them to imagine what is unimaginable: a day of darkness and gloom, the end of life as they have known it. He’s talking about an insect army, storming its way across the land and wreaking havoc as it goes.
Imagine No Malaria asks those of us who have never experienced malaria to imagine the army of mosquitoes that plague families and young children in Africa, wreaking havoc wherever children die, parents can’t work, and young people are unable to fulfill their dreams. It is the end of the world for a child every 60 seconds when the light goes out of a child's eye because of malaria. But it doesn't have to be that way.
There's good news in the prophet's message. The future can be different if people will come together to weep and fast. We too are called to weep and fast in order to change the way the story ends for many people in Africa with malaria.
Through awareness and education, we learn about the effects of malaria on our brothers and sisters in Africa, and we weep. The prophet calls for fasting and to leave a blessing. Imagine No Malaria calls us to leave a blessing: to give generously so that others can live. Maybe our fasting from a daily latte or a weekly night out for dinner could change the future for someone else.
The Advent season is a time to return to God; to repent of our lack of imagination for what it's like to lose a child to malaria and the imagination that shows us what we can do to change that reality. When the people of the United Methodist Church come together--just like the prophet said--to weep for those in need and to sacrifice what we have so that there's a future without deaths from malaria.
Prayer: Dear God, give us the imagination like that of the prophet Joel, that we might see the need and imagine a new future for our brothers and sisters in Africa who suffer daily from malaria. May this time cause us to both weep in support and give in abundance that others might have life and health. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Bishop Sally Dyck, Northern Illinois Conference