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Posts Tagged ‘Pro-life’

Prayer of the Day

O God, who alone knits all infants in the womb, You chose improbable servants—old and childless—to conceive and parent the forerunner of Christ and, in so doing, demonstrated again Your strength in weakness. Grant us, who are as unlikely and unworthy as Zechariah and Elizabeth, the opportunity to love and serve You according to Your good and gracious will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

About Zechariah and Elizabeth:  Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Zechariah, a priest in the Jerusalem temple, was greeted by the angel Gabriel, who announced that Zechariah and Elizabeth would become parents of a son. Initially, Zechariah did not believe Gabriel’s announcement because of their old age. For his disbelief, Zechariah became unable to speak. After their son was born, Elizabeth named their son John.  Zechariah conformed his wife’s choice, and his ability to speak was restored.  In response, he sang the Benedictus, a magnificent summary of God’s promises in the Old Testament and prediction of John’s work as forerunner to Jesus (Luke 1: 68-79). Zechariah and Elizabeth are remembered as examples of faithfulness and piety. (Modified from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  The Gospel according to Luke begins with the birth of John and Jesus.  As part of the warp and woof of the narrative is the praise of God in what could be called Psalms:

  1. The Magnificat, Mary’s Song of Praise:  St. Luke 1: 46-55
  2. The Benedictus, Zechariah’s Song of Prophecy, St. Luke 1: 67-69
  3. The Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the Song of the Angels, St. Luke 2: 14
  4. The Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon, St. Luke 2: 29-32

The titles of these psalms is from the Latin Vulgate translation and reflect an old tradition of naming a psalm after the first word in the song:  1. Magnify;  2. Blessed; 3. Glory in God in the highest;  4. Now depart.  All of these songs have been included in either the Prayer offices of the Church and/or the Divine Service.

In their old age, like another “unworthy and unlikely” couple centuries before,  Abraham and Sarah, the priest and his wife would have a son:  the son to be the forerunner of the very Son of God, the Messiah.  What almost becomes overlooked by the faithful and diligent reader of the Word is that the Lord’s promises come through married couples and their families: Adam and Eve, Noah and his wife, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah and throughout all generations to Zechariah and Elizabeth and another unlikely couple:  Joseph and Mary.  Why does the Lord do so?  I do not think we know directly from Holy Writ but we do know the Lord created marriage and family,and it was good.  And given the state of the family, yes, even in the Bible, the contrast between His saving promise and our utter need for His salvation is clear!  Only He can breach the gap and has. He did not want His love of His good creation,  in bondage to sin, to end but be extended in His redeeming in the fullness of time: the gestation and birth of His only-begotten Son.  His promise of redemption could only find it’s home in a family for the generations of humankind.  We must lift up as the Church at every opportune time the importance of family and children when marriage is denigrated by same sex marriage and children in the womb are murdered and “harvested” for their organs.  Zechariah had much to sing about in the  praise and blessing of  the Name of the Lord in  his  marriage to Elizabeth and so does every family in Christ!

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
   for He has visited and redeemed His people
69and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of His servant David,
70 as He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies
   and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
   and to remember His holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
 74that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
   whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (St. Luke 1)

How do we know salvation and the Lord who is our Savior:  Answer: “by the forgiveness of our sins” The Benedictus is the song sung every day  in Matins. As John paved the way for the coming of Jesus the Christ, so by the Lord’s promise fulfilled to Zechariah, we each and every day in prayer, in the Benedictus, prepare our selves for the work of the Messiah in our vocations, and we too are “improbable servants”.   Matins is good way to begin the day as His family.

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From the novel That Hideous Strength (1945) by C. S. Lewis:

“…as one of the poets says, he (Mark Studdock) “discovered in his mind an inflammation swollen and deformed, his memory.” Oh, but impossible, not to be accepted for a moment: it had been a nightmare, it must be shoved away, it would vanish away now that he was fully awake. It was an absurdity. Once in delirium he had seen the front part of a horse, by itself, with no body or hind legs, running across a lawn, had felt it ridiculous at the very moment of seeing it, but not the less horrible for that. This was an absurdity of the same sort. A Head without any body underneath. A Head that could speak when they turned on the air and the artificial saliva with taps in the next room. His own head began to throb so hard that he had to stop thinking….But he knew it was true. And he could not, as they say, “take it.”

Psalm 139

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.

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About Lawrence:  Early in the third century AD, Lawrence, most likely from Spain, made his way to Rome. There he was appointed chief of the seven deacons and was given the responsibility to manage Church property and finances. The emperor at the time, who thought that the Church had valuable things worth confiscating, ordered Lawrence to produce the ‘treasures of the Church.’ According to tradition,  Lawrence brought before the emperor the poor whose lives had been touched by Christian charity. He was then jailed and eventually executed in the year AD 258 by being roasted on a gridiron. His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young Church because he was a Roman citizen tortured and executed by Roman authorities.  Almost immediately, the date of this death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.  (adapted from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH).

Reflection: I would think Lawrence knew the location of the Church’s treasure! He knew exactly where it was as in the old pirate maps: when X marks the spot, that is the Cross of Jesus Christ.  He knew that the treasures of Christ’s grace is for the  poor, the lame, the orphans and the widows, for all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, that is, the poor in spirit.   In the midst of Watergate in the 70s, Bob Woodward was told by his informant, “to follow the money”.  All of the world follows the money.  Lawrence did not “follow the money”: he followed His Lord and yours.  As a steward of Jesus Christ, His deacon, Lawrence maintained earthly treasure probably well but gold does not make the Church, only the blood of Christ.

When the Church and her Christians think the true treasures of the church are in the offering plates/big budgets  or our “creative ministries” or our programs, and not the Cross and Sacraments, Scripture and Service in His love, then, “…we are in danger of losing the things that make the Church in favor of those who claim to make the Church.  Church leaders only gain legitimacy when they are the delivery point of the divine gifts.” (Pr. Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers, CPH)  Lawrence and many others so delivered the divine gifts and were delivered up as martyrs and their witness heartens us.

The Commemoration of St. Lawrence is our time quite timely, to say the least, given the martyrdoms that have occurred and are happening in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.  It is hard to contemplate Lawrence being killed by being roasted live on fire.  It is hard to believe a 5 year old boy being cut in half by ISIS.  We hear that ISIS is full of anger and hatred…but are they?

Were the Nazis full of hatred and anger when they murdered 6 million Jews and 5 milion Gypsies, Communists, homosexuals and Christians?  Probably at one time.  In a seminary seminar course on the Holocaust we studied the fact that initially the Nazis  took Jews in train cars to isolated areas and then gunned them down burying them in mass graves. The Nazi State soon realized this was using too much ammunition, time and effort, too many vital war assets. Eventually they improved the ‘extermination’ of Jews and others with the invention of Zykon-B gas and high tech ovens to burn the bodies efficiently into ashes.  There was no more anger and hatred, just cold-blooded technological efficiency.  

ISIS can cut a boy in half with disinterested efficiency and many other brutalities.  We exterminate some 2 million  infants a year in abortion with medical technology that is suppose to save lives and then ‘harvest’ the organs and sell them.  Dr. Mengeles are active in our country daily.  The Roman Emperor probably executed many others by grilling them alive without batting an eye.  Just think of the depth of depravity of sin!  Animals do not kill each other for ideology or sport or enjoyment, but man does.  When the Church is driven out by a government, eventually the State becomes god and will not tolerate the one true God, but Lawrence served the poor in Jesus Christ.  We remember Lawrence but not the tyrant who had him murdered.  I have known Lawrences but I have never met anyone named Valerian or Nero, maybe someone would name their dog ‘Nero”. We remember what the Lord said to Saul on the road to Damascus:   “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (Acts 9: 4-5) As Pr. Fiene ended an excellent article,

“”May God turn the hearts of all who are abusing, raping, terrorizing, and killing our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May God bring them to faith in Christ, who has put away their murderous sins and won every gemstone of His Father’s love for them. May God fill our enemies with the Holy Spirit, that they may put down their swords and share the treasure of Christ’s kingdom with those whom they once sought to destroy.”

Gracious Lord, in every age You have sent men and women who have given their lives for the message of  Your Gospel and all the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.  Inspire us with the memory of those martyrs for the Gospel, like Your servant Lawrence, whose faithfulness led them to the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to Your Son’s victory over sin and death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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“Question: Who is the most obnoxious, Protestants, Catholics, or Jews?

Answer: It depends on where you are and who you are talking to—though it is hard to conceive any one of the three consistently outdoing the other two in obnoxiousness. Yet, as obnoxious as are all three, none is as murderous as the autonomous self who, believing in nothing, can fall prey to ideology and kill millions of people—unwanted people, old people, sick people, useless people, unborn people, enemies of the state—and do so reasonably, without passion. Adolf Eichmann was a good family man, a devoted husband and father.”-Lost in the Cosmos:  the Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy (novelist)

 

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planned parenthood cartoon

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Please note:  The President of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Pr.  Matthew Harrison signed this letter.  Also note the leaders of church bodies who did not sign this letter.  I found it interesting to read all the signatories and you will see this is not only signed by Christian leaders.-Pr. Schroeder

THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE AND THE RIGHT OF RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM: REAFFIRMING A SHARED WITNESS
An Open Letter from Religious Leaders to All in Positions of Public Service
Released April 23, 2015

Dear Friends:
At this significant time in our nation’s history with the institution of marriage before the United States Supreme Court, we reaffirm our commitment to promote and defend marriage—the union of one man and one woman. As religious leaders from various faith communities, we acknowledge that marriage is the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together. Our commitment to marriage has been expressed on previous occasions, including the Letter of Shared Commitment and Letter on Marriage and Religious Liberty. This commitment is inseparable from affirming the equal dignity of all people and the necessity of protecting their basic rights.

The state has a compelling interest in maintaining marriage as it has been understood across faiths and cultures for millennia because it has a compelling interest in the well-being of children. Every child has a
mother and a father, and every child deserves the opportunity, whenever possible, to be raised by his or her own married mother and father in a stable, loving home. Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only institution that encourages and safeguards the connection between children and their mother and father. Although this connection cannot always be realized and sustained—and many single parents, for example, are heroic in their efforts to raise their children—it is in the best interests of the state to encourage and uphold the family founded on marriage and to afford the union of husband and wife unique legal protection and reinforcement.

The redefinition of legal marriage to include any other type of relationship has serious consequences, especially for religious freedom. It changes every law involving marital status, requiring that other such relationships be treated as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition. For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Government should protect the rights of those with differing views of marriage to express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity, or hatred of others.

In this and in all that we do, we are motivated by our duty to love God and neighbor. This love extends to all those who disagree with us on this issue. The well-being of men, women, and the children they conceive compels us to stand for marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We call for the preservation of the unique meaning of marriage in the law, and for renewed respect for religious freedom and for the conscience rights of all in accord with the common good.

Sincerely Yours:
The Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson
President
National Association of Evangelicals

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

Dr. A.D. Beacham, Jr.
Presiding Bishop
International Pentecostal Holiness Church

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
Bishop
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Mark Chavez
General Secretary
North American Lutheran Church

Clint Cook
Executive Director
General Association of General Baptists

Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
Chairman
USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion
and Defense of Marriage

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
Archbishop of America
President of the Holy Eparchial Synod
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Archbishop Emeritus
Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Rev. Dr. Ron Hamilton
Conference Minister
Conservative Congregational Christian
Conference

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
President
Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Rev. Bruce D. Hill
Bishop
Evangelical Congregational Church

John Hopler
Director
Great Commission Churches

Steven R. Jones
President
Missionary Church, Inc.

Imam Faizul Khan
Islamic Society of Washington Area

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Chairman
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for
Religious Liberty

Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
General Superintendent
The Wesleyan Church

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo
Chairman
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage,
Family Life and Youth

Dr. Russell Moore
President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission

Dr. Gus Reyes
Director
Christian Life Commission, Texas Baptists

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and President
Seymour Institute for Black Church and
Policy Studies

Jacqueline C. Rivers
Executive Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and
Policy Studies

Larry Roberts
Chief Operating Officer
The Free Methodist Church – USA

Rocky Rocholl
President
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership
Conference / Hispanic Evangelical
Association

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Presiding Bishop
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints

Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church in America

His Beatitude, The Most
Blessed Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan
of All America and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Joseph Tkach
President
Grace Communion International

Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for
Ministry and Ecumenism
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Phillip Whipple
Bishop
United Brethren in Christ Church, USA

David P. Wilson
General Secretary
Church of the Nazarene

Rev. Paul Winter
Elder
Bruderhof Communities

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
Assemblies of God

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“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
    but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
    for not by might shall a man prevail.

1 Samuel 2: 9, from The Song of Hannah

Hannah was the favored wife of Elkanah, the Ephraimite, and the devout mother of the prophet Samuel. He was born to her after years of bitter barrenness (1 Sam 1:6–8) and fervent prayers for a son (1:9–18).After she weaned her son, Hannah expressed her gratitude by returning him for service in the House of the Lord at Shiloh (1:24–28). Her prayer (psalm) of thanksgiving (2:1–10) begins with the words, “My heart exults in Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.” This song foreshadows the Magnificat, the Song of Mary centuries later (Lk 1:46–55). The name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word for “grace.” She is remembered and honored for joyfully having kept the vow she made before her son’s birth and offering him for lifelong service to God. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  In high school (I graduated in ’72),  I was the president of the social science club (I was a class-A nerd!) and the club went  to hear Dr. Paul Ehrlich speak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on his huge best seller Population Bomb in which he argued Malthusian horrors of overpopulation, decreased productivity and rising prices resulted in a global crisis bar none.  His book has been reprinted 20 times.  None of his predictions came true.  Just think how many ‘scientific’ doomsday scenarios grip the public media.  He argued for ZPG:  zero population growth, that is replacement breeding, 2 or less children. I even remember in high school being relieved it was only my sister and I in our family.  This thinking has permeated Western civilization to the point Biblical scholars debunk the Lord’s imperatives to be fruitful and multiple in Genesis 1.  When in a liberal Lutheran church body (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)I heard in an evangelism presentation that we can not count on families (or what’s left of them) filling the church.  Such a ‘tactic’ was derided as “bedroom evangelism”.      

I thought of these terrible reminiscences in reading in Hannah’s brief bio above about her “bitter barrenness”.  “Bitter barrenness” surely described Hannah’s soulful plight and ours as well.  When Elizabeth was greeted by her kinswoman Mary, she exclaimed blessed is the “fruit of your womb”. The Visitation is sheer joy.  We want wombs no longer fruitful.  We want barrenness, bitter barrenness as a way to ‘solve our problems’, but it has not.  ZPG in Europe will result in the demise of those once Christian populations, but it also is a cause of the demise of life and joy.  Pro-life is more than no abortion.  Pro-life means children.  Our solutions to problems both actual and perceived become even greater problems.  In Hannah’s bitter barrenness, she prayed to the point that the priest Eli thought she was drunk because she was so overcome. The Lord answered her prayer and she conceived and named her son Samuel, literally God hears.  There was good news in the bedroom of Hannah and Elkanah and in the bedroom of Joseph and Mary.  We must take the Lord at His Word of promise to be fruitful because, parenthood is the highest vocation in creation which is blessed by the Lord with His Word in the 4th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.  No children means no honor.  We live in a shameful age.  Christians must be as Hannah and be Samuel, trusting in the Lord: He hears.

The Lord also heard more that Hannah may had not heard:   Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas were scamming worshipers of their offerings (1 Samuel 2:  12-17) and committing adultery with the women serving at the temple in Shiloh (1 Samuel 2: 22-25).  Hophni and Phinease were priests as their father.We are told Hophni and Phineas were “worthless men”(1 Samuel 2: 12) and Eli knew about it but did little.  Sounds like headline ripped from our news about churches in our day.   There was a greater bitter barreness in the land:  “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”  (1 Samuel 3: 1)We are also told this about Hophni and Phineas:   “They did not know the Lord”(1 Samuel 2: 12). Priests who do not know the Lord nor follow in His ways sound like the bitter barreness of churches advising abortion, non-fecund same sex false marriages, wombs never knowing life as ‘planned parenthood’,  divorce and remarriage, winking at adultery and masturbation, always thinking about money, preaching a false prosperity ‘gospel’ of your best life now.  What went on in Israel happened over years as well in this land.  We decry the terror abroad but not the terror in our barren pews.  Yet the Lord raised up Samuel:  God hears.  He has heard and calls out to repent:  Christ died to take away your sins not for you to wallow in them, you are freed.  Samuel anointed the first kings of Israel, David and Solomon and from the seed of David came the King anointed with the Holy Spirit.

God the Father Almighty, maker of all things, You looked on the affliction of Your barren servant Hannah and did not forget her but answered her prayers with the gift of a son. So hear our supplications and petitions and fill our emptiness, granting us trust in Your provision, so that we, like Hannah, might render unto You all thankfulness and praise, and delight in the miraculous birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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