World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, always falls near the beginning of Advent. In the global struggle with HIV and AIDS, the advent of life-saving antiretroviral drug therapy has meant that an HIV-positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence.
HIV can now be managed as a chronic condition, and HIV-positive people can live long and productive lives. And this therapy can also help prevent babies from being born HIV-positive.
Yet this life-saving treatment is not yet accessible to all who need it.
The ELCA is working with the ONE campaign to encourage Lutherans to contact elected officials with a message of support for full funding for global health programs. These include The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, which provide critical funding for antiretroviral drugs and related social services.
And ELCA World Hunger is raising funds to support HIV and AIDS ministries of companion churches around the world that provide effective prevention, treatment and care for people affected by HIV and AIDS.
As part of World AIDS Day commemorations, ELCA congregations were encouraged to host a viewing of a 30-minute HBO documentary called “The Lazarus Effect,” about the hopeful impact of antiretroviral drugs upon the AIDS pandemic in southern Africa.
The documentary was directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze. The film chronicles the true-life resurrections of people living with HIV who only a few years ago would have had no chance of survival.
The film shows how four lives were transformed by gaining access to antiretroviral treatment. They went from having a debilitating illness to a healthier, more stable life in as little as three months.
The film and discussion questions are online, along with worship, education and fundraising resources for World AIDS Day and beyond.
The following supplemental resources (tailored for use in ELCA groups) are also available:
- Leader guide and discussion questions:
Sample agenda for the screening and discussion, an introduction to the session, suggested discussion questions, action steps and recommended resources.
- “ELCA HIV and AIDS Strategy” video:
A 10-minute video featuring several Lutheran HIV and AIDS ministries. You may wish to screen this video in addition to “The Lazarus Effect.” Additional discussion questions are available for this video.
- ELCA e-advocacy network:
By signing up, ELCA members will receive timely alerts on a broad range of social justice issues, including the U.S. government’s response to the HIV pandemic at home and abroad. These alerts help ELCA members engage in effective advocacy actions through letters, phone calls, meetings, lobby days, and conferences.
- “Lazarus Sunday” worship resources:
These worship resources (includes Litany, Prayers, Annointing, Sermon Starters) may be used on April 11, 2011, (when the story of the raising of Lazarus appears in the lectionary readings) or may be easily adapted for use on other Sundays and with other biblical readings.
Because every Sunday of the church year is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, portions of these resources may be used on any Sunday or adapted for use on other occasions.