For twenty-five years we have been “storming the throne of Grace.” For twenty-five years we have been walking with, living with and loving individuals and families who have been infected by or affected by the AIDS pandemic.
For a quarter of a century the Balm in Gilead has lead the way in calling the African American church and the Church Universal to prayer during the first week of March. There are times, God, when I feel like I am “bugging you.”
I do not mean to bug you and I do not mean to beg you. I simply am coming to you in prayer today to let you know that there are many of us who are trying to be faithful to your commandment concerning the “least of these.”
There are families who are struggling trying to understand. There are individuals who are trying daily to live with dignity and to keep their heads held high in spite of their physical challenges.
The Church Universal gets a “bad rap” because a segment of the Christian Church mistreats persons who are living with HIV/AIDS. A segment of the Church Universal stay ugly things, harmful things, hurtful things and joins with the so-called “Religious Right” to applaud the unconscionable and egregious practice of countries like Uganda which seek the death of any same gender loving person.
As in the Scriptures, God, there is a “remnant” of your church, however, and I come to you on behalf of that remnant. I come to you as a part of that remnant. I come to you today to ask you to have mercy on us. Have mercy on those of us in the church who have harmed others with our words, the nasty names we call each other, our prejudices, our homophobia and our distorting Scripture.
Have mercy on those of us who are “swimming upstream” trying to represent you as best we can. Have mercy on all of us, O God.
I come to you during this week to ask you to turn up the volume of your presence in the lives of those who live with this disease. Please let them feel your presence in a unprecedented manner. Let them know that you have not left them, that you will never leave them and that your love them just like you love all of your children!
We ask your blessings upon all of those institutions that are ministered to individuals and families who are living with HIV/AIDS. We pray for those institutions that engage in AIDS prevention, AIDS education and those institutions and persons who are service providers.
We especially pray for those churches which are trying their best to be the church of Jesus Christ and to represent Christ incarnate which His presence is needed the most in the lives of those who live with AIDS.
Be with those churches. Be with those institutions. Be with those families this week and throughout this year, as we do our best to represent you, a God of love, and not a God of hate.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Word, who became flesh to dwell among us, we pray this prayer and offer these petitions.
Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago, IL)