Sunday night, Open Door engaged in a unique fusion of worship and justice. We believe that the two go together, but are longing to find ways to experience them both in the practice of our weekly gatherings. The partnership was with World Vision’s HIV/AIDS Caregiver Kit initiative.
Here is what the evening looked like:
We began, as usual, embracing the sound of God’s people gathering. In those moments, I’m training myself to stop and listen to the sound of people gathering, reconnecting, storytelling, introducing, laughing…
Music began which serves to help focus fifty different conversations into one. After we had sung, one of us, a medical professional, began to teach us about HIV/AIDS from a biological/medical perspective. We learned about cell structure and how this virus enacts terrorism on our T-cells in an effort to reproduce itself. We learned the difference between HIV and AIDS through the story of a little boy named Simon whom our friend had watched make the deadly transition of no return in Uganda just a few short months ago.
Next, our friend from World Vision invited us to consider HIV/AIDS in all of its global magnitude. We imagined the tens of children orphaned within the time-span of his 10-minute storytelling. We heard about care-givers around the world who give themselves away to those infected with HIV and AIDS. We re-discovered our call to bring hope to hopeless situations.
It was time to respond. Our response took the shape of putting together Kits of supplies (petroleum jelly, latex gloves, cotton swabs, water purifiers, etc.) that would be sent to care-givers in Uganda. A part of the experience was writing notes of encouragement and prayer to the care-givers such that they would remember that they are not alone (vertically nor horizontally). We decided that we would also include pictures of ourselves so that the care-givers could put a face with a letter.
Once all of the kits were put together, I looked around our gathering space and saw our community pouring over those encouragement cards; an experience that was supposed to take 30 minutes took well over 45.
We were supposed to sing again. Instead of singing we listened. We listened to and were surprised by the sound of worship:
the sound of tape being applied to cardboard boxes;
the sound of cardboard boxes scraping wooden crates as they were being stacked;
the sound of chairs sliding across the floor as people repositioned themselves to write;
the sound of murmured community and individual prayers;
the sound of silence.
The foreign sounds of the worship/justice fusion must become familiar!