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A Prayer for World AIDS Day in a Time of Coronavirus

The author with faith community leaders at a Methodist HIV/AIDS awareness and response event in Durban, South Africa in 2011

Bonjour, mon Dieu.  Comment ça va?

(Hello, my God.  How are you?)

Je suis triste aujourd’hui, mon ami.

(I am sad today, my friend.)

 

But God, you knew what this plague was, as we floundered and feared for years for explanations.

And God, you know what this plague is, as we struggle and stumble to disperse treatment.

 

And you know us – so well – every fragile sinew and cell of our being.

 

And we know you –

we know you to say that if one suffers, we all suffer as one.

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Six Degrees: A Homily and Prayer Litany for World AIDS Day

Who is my neighbor? Who is NOT my neighbor?

We live in a world in which we are just six handshakes away from anyone else. Chances are that you don’t personally know any Australian police officers, the Chancellor of Germany, or a member of the English Parliament. But! Maybe you know someone whose cousin studied abroad in Australia and had a run-in with the police. Or maybe you know a German professor here who knows someone who’s related to someone whose friend works for the German government. You get the idea. Basically, many believe that every person on the planet is separated from everyone else by a chain of about six people.

The idea of “six degrees of separation” was first proposed in 1967 by sociologist Stanley Milgram. He asked 96 randomly selected people around the country to send a piece of mail to an acquaintance, who would send the mail along to another acquaintance, and many of these letters reached Milgram’s “target” person in Boston… through an average of 6 people. Some sociologists question the validity of this study and the theory all together.

But whether or not you believe in the theory of six degrees of separation… and if you can suspend your own attempts to figure out how you connected to Kevin Bacon for a moment… there is no denying we live in a highly connected world.

What are the implications of these connections?

Who is my neighbor?” the lawyer challenges Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.

If I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself, who is my neighbor? Read more