A message for the week starting on Sunday 30th April 2023
Lectionary Week: Fourth Sunday of Easter
Prescribed Texts: Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10
Silence = Death
Focus text: 1 Peter 2:19-25
As an African-American woman living in America, I am conflicted when it comes to this Scripture being used to enslave people. It sounds like a person was supposed to endure everything the overseers demanded, without a mumbling word, because “that is what counts with God.” What a life, what a scam, what a shame, to have Scripture held over the heads of many, who by all accounts, had their own way of living, before the Christian missionaries arrived in Africa. It fills me with righteous indignation. They arrived and destroyed the way of our ancestral beginnings, our ancestral life and to force us into a life that was not spiritually or economically to our benefit. We were stolen and taken to another land, far across the ocean, to the Americas. We were baptized with water and sometimes if we were disobedient, we were baptized with the lash. Some of our ancestors baptized themselves by jumping overboard.
But I digress. This is about HIV, and the newcomers to this brave new world, and all people living with HIV. We too have been cajoled into being patient. We sit down and get a diagnosis which forever changes our lives. And we become a cog in the wheel of making appointments; being told what to do; blood work, and support groups – to share the frightened part of us, that arises as we get thinner, develop lipodystrophy, kaposi sarcoma, and a host of other manifestations of HIV.
It is for you to take that piece of Scripture and instead of accepting “just what is,” instead of suffering everything that Christ experienced and chalking it up to being a good Christian, instead of suffering in silence as Christ did, to make some noise! Open your mouth, or have someone open theirs for you.
Jesus suffered in silence. We will NOT suffer in silence. Silence = death, remember?
We all have our own crosses to bear. For some of us, this cross is HIV. We too have been baptized. Some of us have been baptized with water, some with blood. We’ve been baptized with the blood of someone carrying the disease. But no one deserves this life! Scripture states that they called Jesus every name in the book. Well, they are still calling us derogatory names too: infected, unclean, sick, skinny, the walking dead . . .
We deserve to live, and to live abundantly in Christ’s name. So, go out there and make some noise! Ask questions! What counts with God is how we care for ourselves and for each other. Make some noise and live!
To think about:
What are you doing to make your voice heard?
What kind of relationship do you have with your doctor?
Do you have a support buddy to help you through the system?
Written by: Rev. Andrena Ingram, Former Pastor of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, United States of America
*First published in 2017, condensed in 2023