It may appear to some of us that many people in our culture have dismissed the plague that is AIDS. Mistakenly, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis is no longer as frightening, nor seen as a terminal illness. It is less of a threat, and so it is forgotten…by some. But not by us. We know that AIDS is still a real threat. An HIV/AIDS diagnosis still requires medical attention, a lifestyle change, and loving support of family and friends.

Those of us gathered here this evening, remain dedicated in our support of the people who live with the disease, those who care for them and the service agencies who provide support to them, both locally and worldwide.

December 1st was established as World AIDS Day by the United Nations in 1988. World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for people worldwide for people to unite in the fight against the disease, show their support for people living with the disease, and to remember those who have died from the disease. There is a vital need to raise money to find a cure, increase awareness, fight prejudice against those living with HIV/AIDS and improve education to prevent the spread of the disease.

We gather this evening, as have every year since then, to remember – to pray – and to advocate and educate.

We remember – those who have suffered and died. We recall the names and faces of our loved ones, family and friends. And we remember too the faceless and nameless ones who have no else to pray for them

We pray – we pray for those who live with the disease, their caretakers and support systems. We pray continued success in AIDS research and for a change of heart for those who are prejudiced and ill-informed.

We advocate and educate – despite the great strides in cultural awareness and medical research – we still have a way to go. We must never be complacent or lose hope.

In this Church Season of Advent, the season of holy longing and waiting, let us recall the words of psalm 33. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.