“A unique blessing” is what Life and Health Ministries Director Maggie Karner calls joining thousands of fellow pro-life supporters in Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life.
“It’s a blessing that God has allowed us to be involved in the government process and openly state how we feel about certain issues,” said Karner, as she prepared to help carry the LCMS Life Ministries banner through the streets of downtown Washington on Jan. 24. “We have a unique blessing, compared to much of the rest of the world, and we want to take of advantage of it and show our support for issues like this that are so important.”
Karner was one of three LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC) staff members who took part in the 38th annual March for Life, showing their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. WR-HC marchers included Ed Szeto, coordinator for special projects with Life Ministries, and Deaconess Grace Rao, with Diaconal Project Development.
LCMS Sanctity of Human Life Committee members also marched, including Lutherans For Life Executive Director Dr. James Lamb and Rev. John Pless, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
This was Rao’s first march. “It’s wonderful, overwhelming,” Rao said at the pre-march rally. “I’ve always wanted to come to the March for Life, and I’m glad that I was able to make sure that happened today to join in showing my support with so many other Lutherans from all over the country.”
The day marked Szeto’s 10th March for Life. Fighting for the sanctity of human life can be “a lonely battle,” Szeto said. “There is no better way to be encouraged or edified than to participate in the March for Life with pro-life friends from all church denominations.”
WR-HC staffers joined some 150 worshippers at the traditional pre-march service at Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Alexandria, Va., hosted by the LFL chapter of northern Virginia. Lamb delivered the sermon, “Hands that Knit, Arms that Hold,” based on Psalm 139: 13-14 and Mark 10:13-16.
Lamb referenced Scripture telling how the disciples wanted to prevent children from coming to Jesus, but He told them that all children are precious. “All human life has value because it is created by the hands of God,” Lamb said. “All human life has value because of the outstretched arms of Jesus on the Cross.”
Focusing on the sanctity of life as part of a Lutheran worship service is important, Lamb said, “because we have a grounding on these issues that not everyone does.” Our message, Lamb said, “doesn’t flow from a political agenda but from the Scriptures and what God say about the value of human life.”
Karner called worshipping and marching with fellow Lutherans “a shot in the arm.” “To be able to worship with other Lutherans and walk, literally arm in arm, is wonderful,” she said. “We’re reminded that God has mercy for all. It doesn’t matter your age or whether you are inside or outside the womb.”
The march was scheduled to end around 3 p.m. EST at the U.S. Supreme Court building, but Karner said she hopes the day’s sanctity of human life message continues to resonate with lawmakers in Washington as well as pro-life supporters in congregations and communities throughout the country. “We all must work together to make sure this issue is not lost in the chaos of the day in the civic realm,” she said.
To help achieve that goal, the LCMS Sanctity of Human Life Committee plans to begin work on a national conference to encourage and equip Lutherans to share the pro-life message beyond events like the March for Life. “We’re reinvigorated every time we come here to march,” Karner said. “We’re reminded that this is an issue that demands our attention, not just today, but every day.”
Tags: March for Life 2011