Note: Following is the reflection and prayer that was shared during the worship service at Living Word Fellowship in Dickinson, ND, on January 20, 2019.
Well today is that day in the rhythm of the church year that we draw our attention back to the painful and significant questions of human life. These are questions that both captivate elections and judicial nominations, and also impact the life and well-being of so many vulnerable people.
Hear these words from Psalm 139:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I’m not sure that even the controversy surrounding a border wall divides our nation more deeply than issues of life. Whether we are talking about abortion, the death penalty, or euthanasia, people from all points of the political continuum have deeply held beliefs.
But here’s the thing — the church has become famous, or infamous, for being against things. Christians call themselves “pro-life” when, in reality, most are simply anti-abortion. Do you see the difference? Being pro-life is challenging because it is so much bigger than just one issue. To be authentically pro-life means that we create a culture in which adoption is the norm rather than the exception. It means that we affirm that the addict in treatment and the criminal in the state prison have the same God-given intrinsic value and worth that the baby in the womb has. It means that we invest our resources into helping young, vulnerable mothers. It means that our hearts break when we see systemic injustice.
Life issues are people issues. Life issues are kingdom of God issues. There is a political component to these issues, but they are PRIMARILY issues of human dignity and value.
Sanctity of Life Sunday is not a day when we just bemoan the horrors of abortion. It’s a day when God reminds us, re-convicts us, re-energizes us to be part of his mission of hope and salvation to all persons. It’s a day when we confess our sin and when we pray for the vulnerable in our community. It’s a day when we ask how we can be part of the solution to the myriad of complex life-related issues. It’s a day when we stop to love, not judge.
To the person in here today who could easily have been a statistic, we thank God that you’re here to worship with us today.
To the mother in here today who saw no other way forward than to end the life in her womb. We are so glad you’re here. We love you. We welcome you. Christ’s mercy is for you.
Or to the boyfriend or husband who influenced a life-ending decision, Christ’s mercy is for you.
As we reflect on life in a broken world, would you pray with me?
Merciful God, giver and sustainer of Life,
We pray that the church would take seriously our call to speak in truth and love to all issues related to life. More importantly, however, we pray that we would do more than speak. Lead us to take in the fatherless, care for the widow, walk alongside the addicted, and to be a voice for those who have been silenced.
We pray today for our society and nation. We ask that you would move in the hearts of those in both authority and influence to see the holocaust on the unborn for what it is. I pray that the prevalent lie that life begins at birth would be refuted in the hearts of all.
I pray today for all life that is viewed as unwanted or inconvenient. I Pray for the unborn, for those in foster care, for the incarcerated, and for the institutionalized. Lord be near to all.
I pray for vulnerable parents who may be faced with extremely hard decisions about how to proceed. Give them comfort and lead them to trust in your plan and provision. And lead us to be part of that provision.
And, Loving Father, I pray today for moms and dads who chose, or were pressured into, an abortion. I pray that your grace, acceptance, forgiveness, and peace would permeate their lives. I pray that they would find healing, safety, and love in those of us who follow Christ, and in our congregation.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.