Creator of LIFE and God of LOVE,
We gather today to remember those we loved:
Our mothers and fathers, our partners and spouses, our sons and daughters, and our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us due to a virus called HIV.
We gather to remember our past:
What it was like in the 1990‘s at The 1917 Clinic, when we received an email almost daily with the subject line, “Angel Wings” announcing that another patient, another member of our human family, had died of HIV/AIDS and its complications.
We gather to remember what’s important:
That compassion, care, and hugs are still the best medicines that we prescribe and dispense.
That taking our medicine and seeing our doctor is our lifeline for the future.
We gather to remember lessons our patients taught us:
That all persons, red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in your sight.
That all persons, all of us, fall short of perfection and if it were not for your grace, your forgiveness, we would all be in trouble.
That judgment is simply not a part of our human job description.
And that all Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and all persons of faith and struggling faith, are called to love you with our whole heart, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
We gather to remember individuals who have made, and are making, a difference:
To give thanks for an amazing team of persons at the clinic, for our social workers and receptionists, our educators and data managers, our chaplains and interns, our researchers and phlebotomists, our patient volunteers and security guards, our counselors and environmental service workers, our nurses and nurse practitioners and physicians, and everyone who has contributed to this effort in this place, and throughout the world.
All of whom are known to You by first, middle, and last name.
And finally, we gather to look forward to the future with hope:
We pray for a world without HIV.
We pray for a day without stigma in our world . . .
whether it be for persons living with HIV, with mental illness, or those with a different color of skin of our own, or different accent, language, ethnicity, or religion, or for those with addictions, or discriminated against because of their age, or physical disabilities, or sexual orientation, or for any other reason under the sun.
And we pray for a day when everyone can say, “Peace be with you,” as we bless one another.