The apostle Paul teaches us to “mourn with those who mourn; and rejoice with those who rejoice.” The call to follow Jesus is a call not only to deep joy and freedom, but also to join in solidarity with the suffering. While we have a major event in our church life this month (the relocation of our Sunday worship) there are several current issues that compel us to look beyond ourselves. CliffNotes is a bit lengthier this week, but I believe it’s worth our time.
What current issues am I talking about? I’m referring to several issues that relate to the fabric and culture of life, such as the earthquake in Haiti, which destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives through death and displacement. Another issue is the sanctity of human life that calls us to defend the unborn, the disabled and the dependent. There’s also the issue of marriage and the protection of religious liberties. I am issuing three invitations to you below, as ways to join me in response. One of them is to read the Manhattan Declaration, which was drafted and has been adopted by many Christians and Christian leaders, seminary presidents and faculty, pastors and public servants. This is a non-partisan call to show support for the dignity of human life, marriage and religious liberties.
Here’s a quote from the Declaration regarding the Christian call to support a culture of life:
Our concern is not confined to our own nation. Around the globe, we are witnessing cases of genocide and “ethnic cleansing,” the failure to assist those who are suffering as innocent victims of war, the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable laborers, the sexual trafficking of girls and young women, the abandonment of the aged, racial oppression and discrimination, the persecution of believers of all faiths, and the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS. We see these travesties as flowing from the same loss of the sense of dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life that drives the abortion industry and the movements for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning for biomedical research. And so ours is, as it must be, a truly consistent ethic of love and life for all humans in all circumstances.
I want to invite you to read the Manhattan Declaration here. I appreciate not only the articulated convictions, but also the call to love every human being, no matter what.
I want to invite you to meet me this Saturday (1/23) at 1pm, at the corner of 4th and Guadalupe, where we’ll join many others marching up Congress Ave. to the Capitol for the Texas Rally for Life. You can find more information here. As I invite you to this event, I want to ask you to consider a few things: one, we pray each Sunday for the unborn as a concern of our community, recognizing that this is also a concern of our Lord’s; two, we also value the life of those who might have made a decision in this arena that they regret–the Lord is full of mercy and forgiveness; three, our public stand for this issue must always be conducted with compassion and kindness for every living being.
I want to invite you to join me in support of the victims of Haiti, with a donation to Anglican Relief and Development here. There are many worthy organizations, but a gift here will help support the efforts of our wider church community.
For ongoing opportunities to love and serve the unborn and their mothers, even with an occasional one-hour Saturday commitment, please visit this site.
Finally, I’d like to share a word about why I am addressing these issues. To begin with, we have a responsibility as the Church to respond missionally to the world. Not everyone agrees about what that looks like, but we are not to be mere spectators on the sidelines of history. Secondly, I have a responsibility to God as a pastor to listen and respond to Him. Not everyone will respond with me, but I invite you to consider these things.
Sadly, the issues I’ve discussed in this entry have become very politically polarizing. There are Democrats and Republicans, for instance, who agree on all of the above issues. There are also both Democrats and Republicans who have failed to uphold all of the above. I feel strongly that it is not the pastor’s role to advocate a particular political party. No party has all God’s truth. I also believe that the pastor’s role is sometimes, in the mold of Jesus’ own ministry, to have a prophetic voice. You’ve heard it said: “Jesus did not only comfort the afflicted; he sometimes afflicted the comfortable.” I stand behind a “culture of life” simply because I am a follower of Jesus, not because of any political party platform commitments. It’s my privilege to stand with and serve among people like you.
Your co-servant of the Way, the Truth and the Life,
“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed . . .'” -John 6:68