World Aids Day 1 December 2017

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1 World Aids Day World Aids Day 1 December 2017 The Mission and Discipleship Council would like to thank Carol Finlay, of the World Mission Council at the Church of Scotland, for her thoughts on the World Aids Day. Please note that the views expressed in these materials are those of the individual writer and not necessarily the official view of the Church of Scotland, which can be laid down only by the General Assembly. Introduction This is the first Sunday in the Christian Calendar, the first Sunday in Advent and is also the Sunday in the year closest to World AIDS Day. Held on 1 December each year, it is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate the people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day, held for the first time in It continues to be important to remember that over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and globally there is an estimated 36.7 million people. More than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. World AIDS Day is important because it reminds us that HIV has not gone away, there is still a vital need to support programmes, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education. The Church of Scotland continues to be the only denomination in the UK to have a dedicated HIV Programme, supporting some 30 projects in Scotland and around the world, predominantly from funds raised by congregations. Many of the people who are supported by Partner Projects are people of faith. We have learned much from them as they go through life side by side with the virus, either as someone infected or as someone affected. The depth and strength of their faith and their dependency on God gives them courage to face the future. World AIDS Day gives us the opportunity to remember those who have lost a family member or a friend, known or unknown, or to support in prayer those who are infected or affected by the virus. Isaiah 64:1-9 A lament is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning or protests against pain or appeals for intervention. Laments are not formal arguments. They can employ faulty reasoning and they are onesided. The lamenters in Isaiah 64 never make the clear and contrite admission of culpability that they might be expected to offer in order to receive the divine consideration they request.

2 In Isaiah 64:1-9 the pain is brought on by the consequences of the people s immoral actions and experienced most deeply as anger and alienation from God. Their appeal is for God s intervention, to heal the alienation and to halt the damage of their sins. The people s pain is clear. How God will respond is not. Psalm 80:1-7, The psalms are a book of prayers that hold back nothing in the heart of Israel: praise and thanksgiving; but also anger, doubt, guilt; even demands or reminders, just in case God has forgotten the promises already made! This psalm confesses the people's trust in a God who is big enough to hear their hurt, strong enough to handle their anger and pain. They are in a world of hurt. They want God to know about it. This passage clearly defines how people react in times of desperation. Some look inward only to find despair, others reach out to God. Psalm 80 was a prayer that grew out of desperate times, but not times of despair. It is not an inward reflection on hopelessness, but a cry to the Lord for help. The psalm looks forward to better days, when the Lord would restore His people. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 In this passage Paul reminds us that God is faithful, even when we are not. God's grace calls to us even when we are at our furthest away from God. As we read through the letter to the Corinthians, Paul is most unhappy with how they have gone astray, and places this problem principally in people's failure or inability to trust in God. For while it is true they are good at talking about their faith and pursuing wisdom, they are also distracted by a sense of their own importance. Not so subtly, Paul is targeting some of the Corinthians who think they have arrived and who have become the source of division. He is encouraging the Corinthians to be faithful to Christ s call. Mark 13: This passage is often likened in tone to the Book of Revelation. There is the sense that the coming of the Lord demands of us a certain fear and trembling. It requires that we recognise our own resistance to the things of God. It is a reminder that too often we fail to pay attention to what God is asking of us. This passage is a wakeup call, reminding us to prepare ourselves in Advent for the coming of the Christ; recognising the challenges facing us if we are too comfortable in our lives; by being complacent; by not engaging with God at work in the world. We should seek justice and mercy in all things and listen for the cries of the suffering. This is what God calls us to do as we wait.

3 Sermon ideas Title - Where are you, God? Advent is a time of waiting, it is an opportunity to be in touch with those times when we have felt abandoned by God, or been unable to trust in God s faithfulness and care. Today s readings are a mixture of fear and hope. We all question God at times, as we see in Psalm 80: where are you or why me, God, or we demand of God, how long, God, or restore us, Lord. All people suffer in their lives at some point and we all have times of vulnerability. This is particularly true for those infected or affected by HIV. Crying out, as in Psalm 80, shows a need for God to be close to us in our lives. How do we show God s presence to others in our daily actions? Isaiah s words seem to blame people s unfaithfulness for God s distance from them rather than seeing themselves stepping away from God. Is Advent a time to focus on God and to draw closer? People who have lost a loved one to HIV, or indeed for any reason, may feel in a dark place. How can we reach out to others who may be struggling in life at this time? In Mark s Gospel he reminds the Gentiles to endure their suffering by holding fast to the sure and certain hope of Jesus return in glory. In Paul s letter to the Corinthians, he reminds the Christians there that God will be faithful to them and to wait patiently. Advent brings hope for the future but also a longing for the past. It may be longing for the rituals of past years what rituals in relationships, families, church and community or even in our world can no longer take place? Many people who are HIV-positive long for that time that was not ruled by the routine of medication. Those who have been orphaned by HIV or have become carers for orphans often long for the comforts of past years their lives had been more secure. In this time of waiting, we need to be vigilant and alert to seeing the needs of the Kingdom; in committing our lives to helping others in need; to caring for the earth; to seeking justice for the oppressed. By doing this, we are following in the footsteps of Jesus, waiting actively for the coming of the Kingdom. Time with children Tell the children that one of the Bible readings for today is from Psalm 80 and contains the word: Restore us, O God; Let your face shine so that we may be saved. Explain that there are all sorts of difficult things around us in the world today sometimes affecting us and sometimes affecting others. Take time to ask the children what they think they may be. Have someone write them on pieces of paper as they are called out. Invite the children to gather around the Advent wreath and place the pieces of paper on the floor or communion table near to (but not too close) to the Advent wreath. Tell them Advent is a time of waiting for the birth of Jesus and each week we will light one more candle. Show

4 them that today on the first candle is a red ribbon because we are especially remembering World AIDS Day: A day when we remember people who are sick because of a virus and the people who care for them. Invite everyone to proclaim, Lord, there are many difficult things in our world today. Ask one of the children to help light the first Advent candle and say the words together, Restore us, O God and let your face shine upon us. Prayers Approach to God God of justice and peace, from the heavens You rain down mercy and kindness, that all on earth may stand in awe and wonder before your marvelous deeds. Raise our heads in expectation that we may yearn for the coming day of the Lord and stand without blame before Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever Thanksgiving and Confession Loving God, we thank You for all your gifts, and especially for Your love shown to all humankind through Jesus Christ, Your Son. We thank You for your constant compassion, for Your caring, guiding, protecting and forgiving. We thank You for loving all of us, despite our lack of love for You and our failure to love our neighbours. Loving God, forgive us our feeble faith, our willingness to exclude people from our circles of concern through prejudice, self-centredness or lack of understanding. Forgive us for failing to respond appropriately to the concerns of people who are marginalised in life. Loving God, as we rejoice in Your love for all, and appreciate the transforming power of Your pardon, we ask You to help us recognise our responsibility towards You and the world You have given us. Encourage us to respond appropriately to HIV and to learn from Jesus as we try to live and love like him. Intercession We seek the mighty God in the most unlikely places as a child in a stable, and in an empty tomb. May God hear these prayers, which come from the unlikely corners of our lives.

5 Insert relevant prayer points local and global, including prayers for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Give us ears to hear, O God, and eyes to watch, that we may know Your presence in our midst during this holy season of joy as we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. Musical suggestions CH4 123 God is love: let heaven adore Him CH4 132 Immortal, Invisible, God only wise CH4 153 Great is Thy faithfulness CH4 192 All my hope on God is founded CH4 248 For my sake and the gospel s, go CH4 458 At the name of Jesus CH4 477 Lo, He comes with clouds descending CH4 478 Behold the amazing gift of love 484 Great God, Your love has called us here CH4 519 Love divine, all loves excelling CH4 522 The church is wherever God s people are praising CH4 543 Longing for light, we wait in darkness CH4 568 When I m feeling down and sad CH4 721 We lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet CH4 736 Give thanks for life, the measure of our days

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