Abortion

All of the children

I wasn’t even there when it happened.

Board elections of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) had finally wrapped up for the day, so I was walking back from the convention floor to the press room, tallies in hand, intent on finishing my story for the Reporter within the hour.

It was then that my husband texted me:

They’re trying to move [Resolution] 3-04 to the floor.

I stopped in the empty convention center hallway and stared at my phone. What? Floor Committee 3 wasn’t even on the agenda for that day. And honestly, after two straight hours of recording election results, my brain couldn’t even recall what Resolution 3-04 was.

IVF. Voting now on the motion. No discussion. Gonna pass.

It suddenly hit me what was happening.

This was the resolution, the one that had been five years in the making; the one Rebecca Mayes and I had talked about with pastors at roundtable after roundtable; the one the sainted +Maggie Karner+ and I had discussed as being so necessary that LCMS Life Ministry ended up hosting two Infertility Ethics Symposiums at our Synod’s seminaries; the one Stephanie Neugebauer and the Sanctity of Human Life Committee had made a priority for the good of the church.

This was the resolution that asked our Synod president to assign a task force to study issues relating to procreation, fertility, and care for the unborn. This was the resolution that asked our church to study these matters and, God willing, to speak on them.

My husband had warned me earlier that, with the amount of business in need of being covered at this year’s convention, it most likely wouldn’t make it to the convention floor, but some blessed soul – Chris from Texas, I later learned – took it upon himself to make a motion from the floor outside of the orders of the day.

I quickened my pace to get to the press room. The convention was being live-streamed there. If I hurried, I just might make it in time.

“What’s happening?” I asked, turning around the corner and dropping my bag at my table.

Several reporters looked up at me with blank faces, fully engrossed in the stories they were currently writing on other convention business. No one had been watching the live stream.

IVF task force 95.75% adopted. Thanks be to God!

It was such a quiet, unassuming moment in time. I stared at my phone in disbelief, and then I looked up at the large television screen standing against the far wall. The convention chair was calmly moving the assembly on to the next order of business as if mountains had not just been moved. No cheers were thrown into the air by delegates, no applause rippled across the convention floor. The moment passed just as quickly and discreetly as it had come, and my senses simply weren’t fast enough in the chase.

I looked around at the other reporters, all diligently working, and I did what any other barren woman would do. I stepped out into the hall and cried as quietly as I could. I cried for all of the children frozen in liquid nitrogen; I cried for all of the children abandoned in fertility clinics; I cried for all of the children aborted; I cried for all of the children waiting to be loved, respected, and parented.

And I cried in thanksgiving that my church body is going to pay attention to them.

The LORD of all life be praised!

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My Mom’s Hat

Twenty-one years ago, my mom asked me if I would like to get on a charter bus, ride overnight to Washington, D.C., walk alongside of her in the March for Life, and get back on the bus to ride overnight back home.

I was a junior in high school at the time, and the thought of traveling to our nation’s capital to march in peaceful protest against the atrocity of legalized abortion and in support of women and children thrilled me. It held the golden appeal of a pilgrimage of sorts.

I was soon to learn that not all aspects of participating in the March for Life were golden – the grimy reality of wearing the same change of clothes for three days in a row, the face-numbing cold and bone-chilling wind, the presence of angry pro-choicers yelling obscenities from the sidelines, the heart-breaking news (during the following year’s march) that President Clinton was planning on vetoing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act – but there was something remarkable about marching side-by-side with thousands of strangers in a holy endeavor. I left that march with a clear picture of just how important and necessary it is to speak up for the rights of those who have no voice of their own.

Fast forward to this year.

I called my mom to tell her the forecast for this year’s march. I was in need of a longer coat, and I asked her if she had one that I could borrow. She did more than that. She let me borrow her hat and scarf, too.

As I pulled some knitted accessories out of the bag she handed me, I sucked in my breath. There was the very hat she had worn twenty-one years before in the March for Life. I don’t know if she intended for the gesture to be sentimental or not, but the significance of the hat was not lost on me.

On January 22nd, 2016, the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I stood before the Washington monument and put on my mother’s hat. I started to cry, because I couldn’t help but marvel at how our Lord preserves His church. My generation is not the only profile generation. There have been many, many that have come before us.

My mom is one of them.

Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to use my feet to march for the good of my littlest neighbors. It is a privilege, not only to follow in your footsteps, but also to wear your hat.

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So Much Death

My heart can barely hold the grief.

It leaks out of my eyes as I bow my head in church. I’ve learned to pray with my eyes open, so that the tears drop straight to the floor and not onto my cheeks and clothes in tell-tale streaks.

It shudders from my lungs in seismic waves as Pastor reads the Gospel lesson. I’ve learned to hold my breath until my chest burns, camel-clutching my wayward diaphragm into submission.

It squeezes out of my larynx in pathetic whimpers as I sing, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I’ve learned not to program “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for the Sunday school children lest they witness more sorrow in Advent than their parents want to explain on the drive home.

But my eyes, my lungs, my larynx – all rebels, every one. They get the better of me every Advent, because I know of more children dead than born.

So much death! How can I bear it?

And, as happens every year, I look to the image of my Lord as a tiny baby in the manger, and I remember, “So much life!”

I cannot bear it, so Jesus bears it for me. He is born to conquer death for my sake and for yours. He gives us life everlasting, and He gives it abundantly.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

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Let the Children Come to Me

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In light of the recent, somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade, here is a poignant teaching from the sainted pastor and writer Bo Giertz on the gift of children:

Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them.” Mark 10:14

This was a severe reprimand to the disciples. They thought children should wait until they were able to understand what the sermon was all about. That would be soon enough. But the parents wanted the right thing for their children.

Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts God can give. It’s also one of the greatest tasks you could ever undertake. Having a child together allows parents to share in God’s creative work. We couldn’t live here on earth or be God’s children eternally if the parents of countless generations before us had not labored with their own children and even given their lives for their children. Now it may be our turn to bring life into the world. We cannot take this task lightly. God put us here in an immense generational context. Of course, not everyone is called to be a parents. Not everyone gets married and is gifted with children. But if you get the chance, you can’t deny children their right to live. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? You can’t exchange the life of one child as payment for the luxuries you want to provide another. Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me.” It’s awe-inspiring. The first condition for being able to be a child of God and share all the joy that is the meaning of life, now and in eternity, is that there are people on earth who are willing to take upon themselves the task of parenting.

“Let the children come to Me.” Jesus doesn’t share the view of those who say: Let the child grow up first so he can decide for himself. No, Jesus says. It is just these people who need the kingdom of God. It’s for them. Who can bear to grow up in this evil world without clinging to God? People were never meant to struggle through life without God. We can see how hard it is all around us. We really do need Jesus to lay His hands upon us and bless us the way He does in Baptism. And then never let go of His hand.

Dear Lord, You must help us here because it’s hard to see what Your will is. The world seems to be overpopulated. People say it’s not right to bring children into this world. But Your country was also overpopulated, wasn’t it? Still Your Father let You grow up in a large family. Wasn’t there a reason for that? Can it possibly be wrong to give life to a child whom You love and want to be brought before You if that child is laid in Your arms and taught to live with You now, every day and into eternity? Lord, I must thank You because I have received life and wasn’t denied it. Of course, I would never have leaned to know You if I had not seen the light of day on earth. Lord, help us all to see clearly and do what is right in Your eyes.

(From CPH’s To Live with Christ by Bo Giertz, pages 121-22)