INTERNATIONAL AIDS CANDLE MEMORIAL DAY - An important day on the HIV calendar. 2012
Candlelight memorial day has been celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of May every year since 1983 . We remember those who have passed away but a special emphasis is also placed on “celebrating” the lives of our brothers and sisters who are living with the virus.
Fikelela celebrated Candle Memorial day at Zonnebloem Chapel on Wednesday 16th May 2012. The morning started with training the facilitators how to run a support group effectively. We started the day with a devotion from Romans 8:28 - “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. A story was told of the lawyer whose wife and two daughters were drowned at sea and whose business burned down. In his time of sorrow and grief, God inspired him to write the hymn ‘ It is well with my soul”. The Rev Pam Parenzee taught the facilitators some wonderful exercises using ‘laughter therapy’ - hilarious movements that release stress.
The training was followed by the Candle light memorial service which was attended by representatives from 22 HIV Task Teams and Support Groups. Our opening hymn was Amazing Grace and brought comfort to our hearts that God’s amazing grace shines upon us no matter who we are. Prayers were offered in Afrikaans, Isixhosa & English. Members of Sizanokhanyo support group from St James, Sea Point rendered a song in isiXhosa translated as “ God took me from down here and lifted me up there “ which set a wonderful platform for our speaker from St Mary Magdalene Guguletu support group. What a privilege to listen to Ayanda Labatala’s powerful testimony! At the start of his testimony he broke into song singing ‘Never give up’. At the age of 15 he turned away from all that he knew was right, and became involved in a high risk lifestyle. It was when he discovered his status that he turned to God asked for forgiveness . Now he has turned his life around and decided to live a positive life style.
Our bible reading was from Micah 7:18-19. A very powerful message from Rev Rachel about how God throws our sins into the deepest sea. Using a small stone Rachel shared that when people hurt us we say we forgive them but we still carry a small stone around with us. When that person hurts you again you remember the old hurt(stone) and take it out to look at it again and it gets heavier and heavier. But when God forgives us he throws all those stones into the sea. It doesn’t matter if it is a small stone or a big stone it is gone and you can never find it again. What happened in the past is gone.
The service ended with the candle lighting ceremony , with each person lighting a candle in memory of a loved who passed away or someone living with HIV. The experience of the spirit of God moving amongst us as we sang ‘Thankyou Jesus, Amen’, and ‘Thula Sizwe’ will not be soon forgotten. After lighting the candles the chapel burst into joyous celebration as we remembered that we ourselves must take the light to those in darkness and we sang and danced ‘ Shine in the corner where you are’. The service ended as we sang ‘what a mighty God we serve ( Unamandle U Yesu wam).
The service was followed by lunch and fellowship in the hall after the service. We give God the honour and glory as the Fikelela team for the joy and hope that we experienced at our Candle light memorial service