Spanish Church where April Conference Will Be Held
Having promised to preach on Sunday at First Baptist-Syracuse, NY, I wasn’t too worried about the fact that I would return from a European Baptist Federation Anti-trafficking Work Group meeting at midnight on Tuesday. Having planned the conference with the team and visited the church in Spain that will host our April Europe-wide meetings, I figured I could I could turn out a lullaby-and-baby-powder “Here Comes Baby Jesus” sermon pretty easily.
However, the recommended biblical texts shook up my way of thinking about peace. There was Malachi’s “The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming...?” John the Baptist chimed in with “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
The sermon was supposed to be about peace, but, rubbing my jetlagged eyes and double-checking that I had the day’s references right, the Word kept speaking to me about sin, repentance, and forgiveness of sins. Only thereafter would I hear Zechariah’s “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us…”
Sin was highlighted in the posting of an Italian FaceBook friend of mine this morning. In a town outside Rome, a 27-year-old Nigerian woman who worked in street prostitution was found dead. A friend of hers signaled her disappearance to police when she wasn’t seen since working Friday night. All signs indicate she was brutally murdered. She is the third Nigerian woman in prostitution murdered about which I have heard this year in the infrequent newspaper searches I’ve done.
"Ah, prostitution. It’s the world’s oldest profession," some say. Some write off the plight of the women exploited in the sex industry as if the women pay no price for their part in the system or as if whatever price they pay is nothing compared to the problems prostitution presents to society. Last Friday night this 27-year-old woman paid the price of her very life. Others pay the price with lifelong sexually-transmitted infections or so many abortions forced on them from traffickers that they cannot carry a baby to term after they’ve left prostitution.
Jesus cried over Jerusalem saying, “Would that you had known the things that make for peace.” What will make for peace when we think about human trafficking and prostitution? Pray with me that the sex industry and the clients who keep it turning will hear the call to repentance. Pray that exploited women will trust outreach workers who come extending the tender mercy of God and will be attracted to the Light of the World born again in our hearts this Christmas.
Walking through Advent with you!