Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cold Hands, Sore Feet, and Hard Foreheads

Cold Hands, Sore Feet, and Hard Foreheads
My Reflections on my First March for Life

“I am a feminist as well, and I think women deserve better than abortion”
She looked me in the eye and said “Don’t you dare call yourself a feminist”

Stacy shared the encounter with me moments after it happened outside the Supreme Court building. We were sitting in a small sandwich shop blocks away from where the march ended. The small eatery was buzzing with pro-life activity, most of it from one group of college students from University of Dallas. Rob and I sat at on adjacent table with our paninis and I nodded at the young women and thanked them for their witness, commenting on how wonderful it was to see so many young people come out to make a stand for life. That is how the conversation started, we never knew each other we were from different generations, different parts of the country, and didn’t share a gender. These divisions however were bridged in the moment by a singular love for life and devotion to the God who created it. I shared that when Heather was pregnant with Toby he tested as possibly having a high probability with downs syndrome and they wanted to know if we would consider “terminating the pregnancy”. She shared that her mother gave birth to her younger sister Sophia at age 47 and was also encouraged to “terminate” the pregnancy. Stacy’s profound intellect and passion for the battle she chose were evident throughout our short time together and was easily beyond her years. The fact that she was seen as a threat and extremist by her peers would not deter her from being who God called her to be.
Stacy is only one of the faces that will come back to me as I remember marching in DC this year. Other faces belong to a group of young Catholics from Brooklyn who had brought guitars and bongos. As I marched with them singing Psalms and the Magnificat I commented to Rob and anybody within earshot that I felt like I was in Joshua’s army toppling the wall that was created by a culture of death and decay.
I know that many colleagues and classmates would tremble at the sound of such an explicit militaristic analogy (some might even accuse me of contributing to our country’s uncivil discourse) but I feel that especially in the area of life issues the Body of Christ needs to continue to wave its banners and blow its trumpets. Perhaps we can learn from young people like Stacy and the musical Brooklynites who are faithfully standing against the world and standing for God’s creation and for LIFE. Their steadfast determination and bold faith are gifts from God that need to be recaptured by the whole Church.
I am reminded of the Call of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 3:7-8 But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me. Because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. 8 Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.
Sometimes answering God’s call to discipleship and faithfulness requires acts of stubborn determination. Acts that would by today’s standards label us as zealots. In a world where love is confused with indifference and conviction is seen as problematic as opposed to virtuous the church has often ignored God’s call to pronounce judgment. Let us remember however that God’s judgment is always an act of steadfast love. When we fail to pronounce God’s law we also fail to proclaim God’s love. God gave Ezekiel a hard forehead to equip him to speak all God’s oracles including;
Ezekiel 36:26-28 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
The church needs to say no the culture of death and decay so the whole world can know God’s ultimate and eternal yes. And if Monday’s march is any indication there are many young people in the church ready to deliver that message. I just hope we don’t soften their foreheads.

Lord God.
Thank you for all your faithful who stand for life. Especially thank you for the youth who love you enough to say no to the sin that the world offers them. Bless the whole Church on earth with zealous determination and bold faith so we can speak the word you have called us to speak to a world in desperate need to hear it.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be a world without end. Amen

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