A reflection on the second Sunday in Advent

We keep going because the work is not done

by Jed Koball, mission co-worker serving in Peru | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Philippians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

LOUISVILLE — They came from North, South, East and West. From Bolivia, El Salvador, Haiti, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, India, and the U.S., church and community leaders gathered in Peru for the Quadrennial Joining Hands Conference to assess, re-envision and recommit ourselves to our common and connected work in partnership with the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Presbyterian World Mission.

Our inspired gang of faithful activists and followers of Jesus, of all colors and many languages, made our way to the central Andes Mountains, where I have been accompanying our global partner for 10 years in addressing root causes of poverty.

In this beautiful and mysterious corner of the world, we reflected on our shared initiatives of advocating for systemic change for a more just, equitable and sustainable world in the face of an ever-globalizing world. And we shared stories — all too familiar stories of injustice from each place we represented: stories of massive land grab and displacement of peoples by mining, oil and agro-export industries; stories of widespread contamination, poisoned waters and babies born sick; stories of melting glaciers, deforested jungles and dried up water sources; stories of a widening gap between rich and poor, justified in the name of wealth creation.

We named our oppressors, our common enemies — companies, industries, corrupt governments, and cultures that normalize the evil. We defined patterns emerging across the globe — economic, political and cultural. We analyzed systems and structures. We learned. We shared our strategies in overcoming. We remembered the threats, the risks, the persecution suffered along the way. We celebrated our victories and lamented our defeats. We prayed with each other, for each other. We sang. We read the Bible. We worshiped. We rejoiced. We shared the Good News. We gave thanks to God.

Near the end of our time, a question was raised: How do we keep going? The voice of a friend spoke up, “I keep going because the work is not done. I know I can keep going because you walk with me.”

Global partners. Community. Sisterhood and brotherhood. Joining Hands. We returned to our homes ready again for the struggle. We returned to our lands fulfilled. We returned to the world with hope —hope, that the darkness will not overcome the light.

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