The Common Good

World AIDS Day and Rosa Parks' Civil Disobedience

December 1 is World AIDS Day. December 1 is also the day that Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a bus in Montgomery. I've been thinking quite a bit about the confluence of those dates this past month. This pondering began when I listened on NPR as people detailed the events in Leipzig, Germany before the Berlin Wall fell. People gathered at Nikolai Church, welcomed by Pastor Christian Fuhrer. People invited others to Monday night prayers for peace. More and more people came as word got out. The pamphlets of invitation simply said, "All Are Welcome."

Related Reading

Take Action on This Issue

Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

Isn't that what any of us want to hear? "All Are Welcome." Not for what I can offer or buy or give, but simply, "All Are Welcome." Of course, during this time of Advent in the Christian calendar, we remember the baby Jesus and the shepherds (who certainly weren't on a high rung in their society) who were welcomed by the angels of God.

Those of us who pastored in the NYC area in the late 1980s remember the fear of AIDS. What about communion? "Pastor, how can we welcome everyone if they might give me AIDS?" Education replaced fear and medicine gave hope. And yet, even now, so many in Africa die of this disease every day when medication is widely available here.

Rosa Parks, in the midst of being firmly told that she was not welcome, echoed the insistence of Almighty God the Creator that ALL are welcomed by God, and should be by each other.

Twenty-four more days to Christmas. Who is waiting for you to act on "All Are Welcome"? Some of us live in areas where immigrants are eager to know if they are welcome. Most of us live in areas where people of color are still not welcome like people who have a lighter hue of skin. African children would really like to have their parents live longer -- and they can, with medication. "All Are Welcome."

Rev. Ruth Hawley-Lowry is a pastor in Michigan and serves as a hospice chaplain.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories


Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)