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Sanctity of Human Life Worship Resources

The third Sunday in January is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and the Office of Social Justice (OSJ) is pleased to offer resources for your church to honor the day. Synod has encouraged Christian Reformed churches to commemorate the day’s significance (Synod 1981 and Synod 1995). OSJ would like to help churches commemorate the sanctity of human life in ways that are sensitive and mindful of the impact abortion has on society, our churches, and members of our congregations.

We have developed materials to observe the day in a way that we hope affirms the value of every human life--and at all stages of development. We encourage you and other leaders in your congregation to commemorate the day in ways that are sensitive to those in the pews who have been hurt by abortion--both women and men, those who chose abortion and those who had no choice. We hope to avoid rhetoric that wounds or is politically partisan and would encourage you to do the same.

Theme for this year:

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” -Psalm 8:2

Psalm 8:2 casts a vision of God’s sweet work of silencing the voices of hatred and injustice through ordaining his good purposes in creation out of the mouths of children and infants. Jesus echoes these words in Matthew 21:15-16. What if each life were seen as holy bearers of God’s goodness simply because of their innate ability to bring praise to God, whether by expressions of joy or simply the miracle of their being? From inception to the grave, the only qualification for life to be valued as sacred would be that the Spirit of the Living God ordains and sustains it.

Studies have found the majority of people those who seek abortions in Canada and the U.S. tend to be mothers older than 20. Despite above-average levels of education, they live below the poverty line. In the U.S., nearly 2/3 of women who had an abortion report a Christian faith background. The same percentage say they could not afford another child.  

This Sanctity of Life Sunday, we gather to share the holy vision of the divinely purposeful life. Let us consider the ways injustice in many forms forces women and men to make hard choices about ending pregnancies. Let us seek the praises of all God’s children, so; that both the unborn and their parents are not silenced by abortion. Let us bear the practical needs of our sisters and brothers contemplating abortion and bring them before the Lord. Throughout their lives, let their burdens be our burdens.  

Pray for God’s life-sustaining provision for all children.  Lament the incidence of poverty that would force some parents to choose between caring for their born and unborn children.  Ask God’s forgiveness for our collective condition that results in the unborn not having the necessities of life, despite historic economic abundance. Praise God for the praise of children.

Give of your time and resources to poverty alleviation ministries in your area.  Contribute to job-placement and childcare programs that help parents experiencing poverty find meaningful supports.  Check out more resources at http://justice.crcna.org/abortion-resources.

Advocate for workforce equity and debt relief for the poor.  Within your local church, advocate to your Diaconate for benevolence spending and relationship development with peoplethose experiencing poverty in the wider community. Consider partnering your church with organizations such as Christians Against Poverty (capamerica.org, capcanada.org) to help people struggling with debt, poverty, and unemployment.

Worship

  • Statistically, it is highly likely that there are post-abortive women and men in your congregation.
  • Some women were forced to have abortions against their will.
  • Adoption was used as a tool in colonization and can still carry cultural baggage. While adoption is a wonderful option for many, it is not a culturally acceptable option for all women.
  • Many women choose abortion because they truly believe it to be critical to their survival. Economic hardship, lack of family or relational support, and work or educational responsibilities are the top determining factors for women who choose abortion.
  • Abortion has global effects, particularly in terms of gender selection and disability.
  • The CRC is blessed with many passionate advocates for life. If someone will be speaking to your congregation, seek to ensure that passion is tempered with sensitivity to the variety of experiences (like post-abortive men and women, families grieving miscarriages, couples struggling with infertility, women who have released children for adoption, and adoptive parents) represented by the people in your pews.
  • The Monday after Sancity of Human Life Sunday is the day when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is honored in the United States. There has been a historical connection between racism and abortion in the United States. Help your congregation connect the dots between the value of every human life and the dream that Dr. King worked to make a reality. 
  • In recent studies on abortion, The Guttmacher Institute found diverse, interrelated reasons for why 1 in 4 U.S. women undergo abortion.  Responsibility to others and resource limitations, such as financial constraints and lack of partner support, are recurring themes.  While we tend to assume teens make up the majority of those who seek abortions, most of the women in the study are older than 20 and almost all have at least a high school education. The majority have at least some postsecondary education. Nearly 60% of them have other children and nearly two-thirds report they are Christians.  Despite their educational backgrounds, nearly half of the women live below the federal poverty line, living on less than $20k/year for a family of four.  75% report not being able to afford another child.
  • In Canada, at least 52% of those seeking abortion have other children and 98% are older than 18
  • In his summary on the Christian life, John Calvin writes, ““they should put themselves in the place of him whom they see in need of their assistance, and pity his misfortune as if they felt and bore it, so that a feeling of pity and humanity should incline them to assist him just as they would themselves.” [Excerpt From: John Calvin, Henry Beveridge (Translator). “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/ca/book/institutes-of-the-christian-religion/id370193837]
  • Matthew 21:15-16: But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”