1 December 2021

Rev. Roland Stringfellow

As we head toward the end of another year living with the Coronavirus, the fear, concern, and caution that we all have grown accustomed to is becoming engrained in our normal daily lives.  Talk about the leftovers from Thanksgiving! Many of us are dealing with the leftovers from the “4 P’s” of 2021 – Pandemic, Politics, Policing/Protesting, and Personal.  It seems that many of us have something that we’ve dealt with personally in 2021 that continues to sap us of our strength today.  These four dark horses of the 2021 apocalypse have not gone away and continue to threaten our peace.

My peace of mind was threatened recently on the day that the verdict was announced in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. The verdicts reached in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally and Ahmaud Arbery cases, however, did my heart good for these cases showed some reckoning with regard to violations of racial justice.

Waiting for the day of reckoning for those who have been victimized by the events of the “4 P’s” may or may not come in ways that are satisfying to us, but a key lesson of life is to make peace with those things we have no control over.  That is why I appreciate that World AIDS Day is commemorated the last month of the year because December is the time that many people, both spiritual and secular, take account of how the year has gone and how they can make improvements in the new year.

We tend to get so busy this time of the year that we rush pass December 1st without a thought to the significant role that religious communities played – or… did not play – in the lives of those who lived and died from HIV/AIDS.   Many died without receiving a satisfying reckoning / resolution of the pain caused by this virus and by those who refused to support them in their sickness and death.

World AIDS Day is a time to remember and honor the courageous battle that many people worldwide continue to wage against this virus.

This day should also be a time of repentance, of wearing sackcloth and ashes, as we take responsibility for the lack of love and compassion that was withheld from those diagnosed with HIV / AIDS.

But I have always been an advocate for those living with HIV / AIDS!  I don’t have anything to repent from!”  If this statement describes you, that’s wonderful!  But if it doesn’t, how do we avoid falling into complacency when we are tempted to focus more on ourselves and become too busy to be concerned with the needs of others? So many victims of this virus have experienced spiritual violence at the hands of religious leaders.

For those of us who are spiritual caregivers, it is our duty not to allow December 1st to pass by without asking “What can I do to continue to bring attention and help to those living with HIV / AIDS?”  “How can I right the wrongs inflicted by religious communities?”  These are good questions to consider as we engage in our end-of-year reflections.

The year 2021 has taught us not to take anything or anyone for granted.  We have no guarantee that 2022 will bring a resolution to pain brought on by the circumstances in our life.  The best we can do is to identify with others who need our help of comfort and joy as they go through their personal challenges.

The commemoration of World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for us to look beyond our own pain and stand in solidarity with those still waiting for a reckoning from the rejection from parents, preachers and politicians who did not support them.

How will you commemorate this sacred season of Worlds AIDS Day?

Rev. Roland Stringfellow, DMin, Coordinator of the CLGS African American Roundtable