March 18, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “From Conception to Cemetery”
A maxim says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. I’m getting pretty old and set in my ways, but this semi-retired Methodist parson learned something last week from Pope Francis.
Oh yes, I confess to being ecumenical. Raised Baptist, educated by Presbyterians, on the faculty at an Episcopal high school, I found my spiritual home in Wesleyan Methodism. But that doesn’t mean just Methodists are going to heaven. (I’m not sure all of ours are going to make it.) I have learned all expressions of the Judeo-Christian faith have something to offer the whole community of believers.
So I genuinely celebrated with my Roman Catholic friends and relatives the exciting selection of the first non-European Pope in a millennium. The fact that Pope Francis is from Argentina particularly caught my attention, as I spent two weeks in Argentina in 1985 on my one and only foreign mission trip.
The first thing the newscasters reported was that the new Pope is “a man of social justice”. I listened carefully to hear how Pope Francis sees and lives his social justice. (Recent Pastorgraphs illustrated how “social justice” has become a term of derision by some.) I was pleased to learn he lived in a simple apartment and denies himself the frills of his high office, because he wants to be identified with the poor and dispossessed. It is all part of his spiritual formation, and follows the footpaths of Jesus.
In our society there is an inconsistency. “Conservatives” are very focused upon the rights of the unborn, but once children are born, it is mostly the “liberals” who promote care for the education, feeding, clothing and well-being of poor children, and who care for the health and welfare of the marginalized as they grow older. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expressed a similar observation at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) meeting last week when he said the selection of Pope Francis would challenge both conservatives and liberals on human rights and social welfare issues.
Where is the integrity if we fight for a child’s right to be born, but fresh out of the maternity ward, we say, “Baby, you are on your own now! And it’s a tough, cruel world out there. Best of luck to you.”? Or where is the integrity of those who argue for the sanctity of life for the elderly or those on death row, but treat the unborn and marginalized children as if they do not matter?
Pope Francis’ model of social justice transcends the dogmas of conservatism and liberalism. It’s actually pretty simple, and most importantly it is consistent. Just love and care for folks from the cradle to the death-bed. Then maybe the world will see anew in us the love of God in Christ.
A few years ago, a young single woman came to me for counseling and told me she was pregnant. I discouraged her from aborting the baby. But more than that, I realized the shared responsibility with her in making that decision. So I covenanted with her to help care for the child once she was born. That baby is now six years old. Over the past six years, her mother has had a difficult struggle. On several occasions she has asked me if I could help with certain expenses for her daughter. Fortunately, I have been in a position to assist. Of course, I cannot care for all such babies, but at least I have helped care for ONE.
For me, to tell a young woman to keep her unborn baby, and then forget both her and the baby upon birth is the height of hypocrisy, and immoral.
I wonder how many of the 1 in 4 American children born into poverty would have greater opportunities if every pro-life advocate would similarly “adopt” a child of an unplanned pregnancy. But too often, many disappear at the maternity ward.
I propose that we follow Pope Francis’ example, and care about and for people from conception to cemetery, especially the poor and dispossessed. Jesus did.
From the Quote Garden:
“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of
responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained.”
~ Helen Keller ~
Easter Joint Worship Service: You are invited to a joint worship Easter Celebration Sunday, March 31, 10:00 AM, sponsored by Exodus Church and the Methodist congregations at 33rd and Meade. Everyone is invited to attend. Multiple choirs will sing, and I have the honor of preaching the Easter Sermon. It will be a glorious day, similar to multi-congregational services we have experienced in the past.
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205