Christian Aid Week.
John writes of his vision in the book of Revelation. It is a revelation that brings not only hope for the future, but also a vision of how God wants the world to be. John writes Revelation at a time when the Roman Empire is advancing. The Empire seeks more and more political and economic power. And to get it the Romans demand that their own emperors and traditional gods are worshipped. But John is providing another way, the way of worshipping God. The scenes he describes provide encouragement to the early churches to directly challenge the powers that would suppress the kingdom of God.
In both his vision in the throne room of Revelation 7 and in seeing the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21), John draws our attention to God wiping away every tear from the eyes of those who have suffered:
- 'They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.' (Revelation 7:16-17)
- 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.' (Revelation 21:3-4)
One can only imagine how these words might bring comfort to the thousands bereaved by the devastation of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone between 2014-2016. And for those who lose loved ones and babies in childbirth at an alarming rate still – Sierra Leone is the most dangerous place in the world to become a mum due to the lack of healthcare facilities. Share Jebbeh or Tenneh’s story from pages 2 and 3 of the sermon pack.
Reflecting on John’s vision, the Rev Christiana Sutton-Koroma, a minister in Sierra Leone who partners with Christian Aid to spread healthcare messages, says: ‘There will no longer be tears in the eyes of women as it is now, when there are not enough hospitals to take care of pregnant women.’ The tears of Jebbeh who lost her sister in childbirth will be wiped away. The tears of Tenneh who mourns the death of her first baby will be wiped away. In a country where 10 women die every day in childbirth, John’s vision declares there will be no more death, no more mourning.
Take a moment to imagine a heaven on earth, where every tear will be wiped from our eyes, every tear. John does not share this revelation of an ‘other’ world that leaves us depressed with the knowledge that it cannot be realised. He is not just awakening our desire for how things can be and leaving us there. John’s revelation can change us.
- This vision of heaven allows us to look at life on earth in a new light. The heavenly visions of Revelation show us how God wants things to be, this is what we are asking for every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer – when we say – ‘your will be done, your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’. John shares this vision of heaven, not only so that we can hope for the future, but so that we can be inspired by a vision of how God wants the world to be.
- This Christian Aid Week we get to participate in bringing that vision of heaven to earth with every envelope we give out or fill, every Big Brekkie we host, every fundraiser we organise or attend – all of these are an opportunity to enter into helping this vision of heaven on earth to be realised. (This is a good opportunity to share how your church is taking part in Christian Aid Week and how others can get involved.)
- And as well as partnering with RADA in Sierra Leone to provide improved health services for mums and babies, we also get to do what John was seeking to do in his revelation: challenge the political and economic systems that are oppressing and marginalising the community there.
- While the government of Sierra Leone is still paying back the loans it was given to help cope with the Ebola crisis, it struggles to fund adequate health clinics, proper health training, or enough ambulances. Debt repayments are taking money away from the healthcare that is desperately needed to tackle death in childbirth.
- This Christian Aid Week we can call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to help ensure all Sierra Leone’s debts it received for fighting Ebola are written off, and take urgent action to prevent any new debt crises in developing countries and tackle them when they arise. This Christian Aid Week, as well as a vision of all tears being wiped away, we are calling out for the tearing up of Sierra Leone’s Ebola debt.
God our Mother and Father, we praise you
for the blessings you shower upon us.
Bless the lives of our sisters and brothers and their precious children.
In life’s saddest moments,
may we feel your love most, O Jesus.
Continue to dwell in our hearts, Lord.
May your love keep us strong.
Give thanks for all who have given, campaigned and prayed for the work of Christian Aid this week. Pray that God would be glorified by this week of Christian witness and that the lives of mothers and babies would be made much safer in Sierra Leone and across the world because of Christian Aid Week.
Published on 08 May 2019