Friday, January 22, 2016

You Can Ring My Bell?

Photo by Jeremy Wheaton
Today was a very somber day for me.  I watched some news reports today coming in from Washington D.C.   The March for life was still going despite the impending winter storm.   People were still sharing the witness of their faith.  They were going to make a difference.  They were doing something.  Raising awareness.   Showing that they disapproved of what we have become as a country, of what we have allowed since that day in 1973 when Abortion became a legal reality.

As I stood at the bell in front of our church I wondered, what can I do?  Here I am a man with a crippled body.  A spine made of titanium that no longer bends.  I am unable to work.  I am in constant pain.  I can't make the trip to D.C and then be able to do anything.  Even if I could, the march itself would definitely take it's toll on me.   It would be worth it, I am sure.  I stood there watching the snow drift down like Mardis Gras confetti, grimacing from time to time as this stupid kidney stone twinged.  Donna's voice called out the beginning of the prayers of the rosary and we responded.  Between each prayer I would ring the bell. 

Fifty eight times.  Fifty eight times the bell called out through the neighborhood.  Fifty eight times it echoed off the houses, the windows, the tomb stones, the trees.  I wonder if anyone heard it's lonely cry as it drifted through the snow.  Or did the snow muffle the anguished toll making everything seem light and fluffy as wintering precipitation is wont to do?  

Abortion.  We avoid that word don't we?  I want to do similar here with my blog to what Deacon Bill did at our communion service today.  I want to share some numbers.  I want to make people more aware of what is actually going on.. put it into perspective for those who think it's not a big deal.

There have been almost 59 million abortions in the United States alone since Roe vs. Wade.  That's nearly the population of California and Texas combined.

There have been 65,000 abortions in the U.S. this year alone, and remember it's January.  That means in two months the entire city of Rockford, IL would have been aborted.

There have been 2,329 abortions in the U.S. just today.  That means every two days there have been as many people killed as there are living in the town of Genoa, IL.  That means that every day more people die than at Pearl Harbor.  Every two days more people die than at 911.   That means that every minute there is an abortion in the U.S.  Worldwide that number is even more.  Worldwide there have been 1,157 abortions since I began writing this blog.  Worldwide that number is 1,402,387,111 abortions since 1980. 

Let's try to think about that.  Here is a visual that really struck me.  Let's for a minute compare it to counting sheep.  You decide you are going to count one sheep for every abortion since 1980.  You count really fast right?  You know it's going to take some time.

In 1 seconds, 10 sheep go by.
In a minute?  600.
In an hour? 36000.
All night, 12 hours? 430,000 sheep go by.
A week? 24x7? Counting every second, no sleep, just counting? 6 million sheep.
In a month? 25 million
After a year?  300 million.
So if you manage to keep going... never sleeping, never stopping, never resting.. one sheep a second.. counting and counting... In 3 years and 3 months.. you can count a billion.   You only need to go another year and a half to get to 1.4 billion.  The scary part?  You just spent over 5 years counting.. and in that time?  Another 10 million will have happened.

That blows me away.  What does that have to do with our readings for today?  In our readings we see Saul being in a very precarious position.  He goes into a cave to relieve himself.  Isn't that some tasty reading material?  While he's in his most vulnerable position, David who Saul has been trying to kill, sneaks up behind him and cuts off part of his cloak.  David's men then want to rush out and kill Saul before he can even get his armor back in place.  David instead goes out and shows Saul that he truly doesn't mean him harm... if he did?  He'd already have killed him.  Saul realizes that God had delivered him into David's grasp, completely vulnerable, unable to defend himself and professes:

Great is the generosity you showed me today,
when the LORD delivered me into your grasp
and you did not kill me.

Oh doesn't that sting?  Every day God delivers into our lives the opportunity to choose life.  He delivers into our grasp the most defenseless of people... the one who not only cannot defend himself but also cannot even speak for themselves... How do we choose to respond?  How does God want us to respond?  David knew that Saul had been anointed by God, chosen by God.   He refused to lay a hand on him.  He responded with generosity.  He responded with kindness.  He responded with love.  How much more so is the child designed by God in the womb chosen by God?  I hope that we can honestly say that the generous, kind, and loving thing is to choose life.  Not to blame the unborn for the sins of their fathers and mothers, but to realize they are a gift no matter how they got there.  They are innocent of any crime, unlike Saul who could cry "You are in the right rather than I; you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm."  If David, a foreshadow of Christ, chose to give life to his enemy; how much more so do you think Christ himself would ask us to choose to give life to the innocent?

Then we have the New Testament reading which shows us the calling of Jesus to the disciples.  The scripture reading says first "Jesus went up on the mountain."  This means an encounter with God.  Moses went up the mountain to meet God.  Elijah went up to the mountain to meet God.  Jesus goes up to the mountain to be with the Father.  Then he calls them.  God calls us just like the disciples.  When Jesus called them he chose them.  They weren't a mold.  They weren't all the same.  Some were quiet.  Some were crude and rough.  Some were educated.  Some were working men.  Some, the Sons of Thunder, were loud and boisterous!  They all had one thing in common.. they were chosen... they had a mission.

You and I are chosen too.  We are each different.  Some can do this, some that.  Some are apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,   for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.  All though are called to bring about God's will.  All are called to bring justice and righteousness to the less fortunate.  To protect the window, the orphan, the alien, the refugee... the one who cannot defend him/herself.  How much more so the unborn? You and I are called to protect them... but how?  Each of us has our own way, our own path.

While I was ringing that bell I thought this is it.  This is what I can do.  I can offer up my pain.  I can offer up my suffering.  I can write.  I can talk.  I can share.  It's what you can do too.  You can find a way to make a difference.  You can pray.  You can write letters to congress.  You can be present to an event.  You can tell someone about the numbers.  You can make sure that every person you know, every child whose life you are influencing knows that all life is precious.  That every person deserves dignity and respect from womb to tomb.  That's what it means to be a disciples of Christ.. it means going out into the world to bring God's Word into our environments.  It means making people aware of wrongs.  It means being a Son of Thunder when necessary, using our voice as loudly as necessary to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."