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Monday, January 23, 2012

Human Life Sunday

Yesterday was "Human Life Sunday" and most evangelical churches are full of stuff about abortion. Everyone who has seen more than one post by me knows I think it a horror and a redo of the Holocaust and awful. Christians are mostly united on that issue.

Yesterday, though, was one of the best "Human Life Sunday" services I have ever been to. The reason is that it was NOT "against abortion." It sorta was, but in a really really good and different way. Someone has said that the best way to show a crooked stick is crooked is NOT to pull out the protractor, and give a detailed set of measurement codices, but simply to lay a straight stick beside it.

The message was on "adoption" and the nature of the family of God vs those not in the family. It was beautiful, inspiring, full of truth and a great message on the two families and the free and open invitation to join God's family.... and how family members share the same characteristics of the father (this is, in fact, how you know they are family members).

The "human life Sunday" part, though came in the exhortation to the congregation to do what the Christian church has done through the centuries, and that is take in the unwanted. Christians have historically been known as those who rescued abandoned and unwanted children, rescuing them from degradation, exploitation, starvation and abuse. The Roman cynic Julian complained that Christians not only cared for their own poor but rescued the abandoned children of the pagans. Amy Carmichael spent her entire adult life beating people up to send her money so she could buy child temple prostitutes from Hindu shrines and raise them (while she was horribly sick, btw). George Mueller ran an orphanage entirely "on faith" meaning he never asked anyone for a dime but ran close to a million dollar ministry simply asking God to show he was God by providing without publicizing needs. His bio is quite amazing. All these and more are part of the heritage of the Christian church. He brought up the quip of Barney Frank, who stated that "pro lifers think life starts at conception and ends at birth." While acknowledging that this is terribly unfair, he really hammered on the fact that we should be willing to sacrifice our standards of living to open our homes and take in the unwanted, including becoming foster parents, if not going all the way thru adoption. This, before attempting legislation, is the best way of repudiating the phenomenally selfish and barbarous ethic of abortion. Not saying that legal protection is wrong or misplaced. It is saying that an ethic of love is better led than driven.

My own experience is that the church where I go is the first one I have been for a LONG time where people who don't have a lot to bring to the table socially are welcomed in, affirmed and a conscious effort is made to make them know that "you matter."

This is so very contrary to everything out there in "normal" society and sadly (I speak from experience) contrary to much of the church. It should be the one place where the "what can you do for me?" values are rejected.

The fact that the unhip, the uncool, the uneducated, the slow, the odd folks are welcomed is of the same cloth as an emphasis that we should be welcoming to otherwise unwanted children.

Carole and I talked a few years ago about how God may call us to adopt a child, specifically a child from a different race, and maybe one with problems, partly as a statement that all people have value. Carole's response was most interesting. She said "how could we NOT do such a thing?" We had no idea that our "adoption" would be of the homegrown variety, nor of the pain that would be involved in how that was set up, but here we are.

Anyway, the pastor said he wanted the church to be KNOWN as the place where unwanted children could go, no matter what their problems or backgrounds or race or whatever. He is adopting a child from Uganda from an aids orphanage. The church has started a number of ministries focused on this, with resource links and funding pools. It is phenomenally expensive to adopt, usually costing upwards of $20,000 and often doubling that if you do so internationally. His attitude is "so what is my money for?"

Again, it was beautiful.

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