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God of grace and mercy, healing and hope,

 

There are times when our stuff gets in the way of your calling.

Many times we know how you’d like us to react but our own

discomforts and uneasiness cloud your vision for us. We know

you to be a welcoming God perfectly exemplified in the person

of Jesus, the one we call Christ. One who extends grace to all

people, even in crossing societal norms; yet, we find yours a

difficult example to follow.

 

O God, too often this is the case when we talk about HIV and

AIDS. We’d rather not think about how it was contracted, but

at the same time that is all we can think about. Too often we

get caught up in a spirit of retributive justice, a “you got what’s

coming to you” mentality, rather than responding out of the

grace that was first extended to us.

 

Help us, Gracious One, to truly follow the ways of the One

who healed without question, even on the Sabbath, instead of

perpetuating a culture of “unclean” lepers. And challenge us

to accept that our passing judgment against segments of our

society contribute to new HIV infections rather than reducing

them. Open our eyes—give us 20/20 vision—so that we may

see that racism, homophobia, bi-phobia, and trans-phobia,

in addition to a general reluctance to talk about sex in the

church, are all complicit in the continuing rise of HIV-infection

rates among young gay men and transgender women of color.

 

May your Holy Spirit comfort those who are hurting and

dis-comfort those of us who are complicit in their dis-ease. In

your healing and mercy, Amen.

Rev. Gregory Gross

Gregory D. Gross, LCSW, AM, MDiv is the Clinical Manager of the HIV Testing & Prevention Program at Center on Halsted in Chicago, the most comprehensive community center serving the LGBTQ community in the Midwest.He provides clinical supervision for the program’s Health Educators and the State of Illinois AIDS/HIV & STD Hotline Resource Counselors.Gregory provides crisis and long-term psychotherapy for HIV testing clients and coordinates the 5 HIV+ Support Groups at the Center.He has conducted HIV/STD educational presentations in schools, colleges, churches, and agencies across the Midwest. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Project Tariro, a holistic support program to help those living with HIV/AIDS to live positively in Zimbabwe.Project Tariro is an initiative of UM Deacons and Africa University. Gregory holds a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He is a licensed clinical social worker and an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. He was a clergy delegate to the 2012 General Conference of the UMC. He was the 2010 recipient of the Red Ribbon “Compassionate Heart” Award given by the IL Department of Public Health for outstanding work in the HIV continuum of care that has significantly improved the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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