A message for the week starting on Sunday 27 March 2022
Lectionary Week: Lent 4
Prescribed Texts: Joshua 5:9-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Rolling Away the Reproach
Focus Text: Joshua 5:9-12
I was intrigued by this reading from Joshua. The place Gilgal has remained in the back of my head for many days. It’s a place we are still searching for today. Where is our Gilgal? When will the reproach of this disease be rolled away? When I hear the name Joshua, my mind automatically begins to sing:
“Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho . . .
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,
And the walls came tumbling down!”
I, like Joshua, can appreciate a good battle. I have often experienced God’s calling. Like Joshua, I trust God’s word. My battle gear is the Written Word. I trust God will lead me. Many of us living with HIV, are Chosen Ones. For whatever reason, we have been chosen to fight this battle of HIV/AIDS.
As the Israelites were crossing the Jordan, they were instructed to pick up twelve stones and place them in a circle on the land. These stones were to represent them coming up out of the Jordan and landing on dry land. They were placed in a circle as memorial of their journey, and God’s faithfulness. I can’t help but realize that we, who have been on this wilderness journey, have been on it for as long as the Israelites were, thousands of years ago.
Oh, we have made our own crossings. We’ve crossed through the monstrous drugs of AZT and Fuzeon. We’ve crossed through different treatment plans, different drugs, different medical trials. We’ve had a glimpse of the Promised Land with our rising CD4 counts and our viral loads of undetectable statuses. We have a glimpse of the Promised Land of getting to zero, with PrEP – medication which if taken properly, prevents one from contracting HIV. These are glimpses of the Promised Land.
We too must march and blow our horns (shout out) and make noise. We must be heard! We must complain and not become complacent with the way things are! The end of this disease is in sight. But we must push.
There are more than enough battles to go around: I spoke about one in the beginning of this article: criminalization of people living with HIV – putting them in jail, punishing them for someone else’s lack of accountability to their own bodies. We need loud voices and writers to ensure that medication is available to all, especially the marginalized, including but not limited to sex workers. We need harm reduction programs.
The Israelites who were God’s Chosen ones, were fuelled by anger and frustration. They wanted bread; God sent them manna. They wanted water; God sent them water out of a rock. They wanted meat; God sent fowl. In the midst of their hardships and difficulties, God provided.
God was ecstatic with Joshua and the Israelites for following God’s directions, right down to stones. So ecstatic that they had crossed over the Jordan, that God “had rolled away the disgrace of Egypt”. The stones represented where their deliverance from slavery actually became real. God kept His promise then. God will keep His promise now.
To think about: God’s promises are true. Make a loud noise! Sound the trumpets in Zion! Hold on! Keep on pushing! Our deliverance will be real!
Written by: Past. Andrena Ingram, Pastor at St. Michael’s Germantown, Philadelphia; HIV advocate and long-term survivor