A few weeks ago, we celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Our goal for this time is to realize that human life has value because its value comes from God. What do you think of when de-valuing life? Slavery, homelessness, abortion, how we treat one another and the list could go on. Acting in life-affirming ways can look like many things. This year, we taught about modern slavery, provided an Our Neighbor’s Place insert (to give to people in homeless or impoverished situations), in process of collecting donations for the Pregnancy Helpline, and a week-long prayer sheet about life.
Gary Sumner, Deacon of the Social Concerns Commission, provided a reflection on slavery and life for us. Please read below. May we bring glory to God by valuing life.
This is one week after MLK Sunday. The work Martin Luther King did to end segregation and to ensure civil rights was very needful and very good. Have you ever considered why it is? One hundred years after the US outlawed slavery, African Americans were still not equal citizens. Have you considered why slavery is so abhorrent to us?
My purpose in this talk is twofold.
1. to help raise our consciousness that slavery still exists and
2. to get at the root of why it is so bad.
I was waiting to be picked up one day several years ago when I started a conversation with a woman who turned out to be from the West African country of Senegal. As soon as I found out she was from Senegal, I was all ears and questions. I wanted to find out more about Senegal from a real person from there. Part way thru the conversation, I asked the question, “I read that there is still slavery in Senegal, but I don't have the greatest trust in our media. Do you know anything about it?” Her answer stunned me. She said, “Yes, there was, but they are happy that way.” The conversation went on to other topics about Senegal, but that remark made feel as if I had been transported back to pre-Civil War times.
So again I ask, “Why is slavery so abhorrent?”
Today, there are between 10 & 30 million slaves in the world depending on what source you look at. In 2004, it was about a $5-9 billion business. And this business is very nearby. It is in Minneapolis and other nearby places. The personal stories of people who have escaped are heart wrenching. Sometime, go and research some of this.
So again “Why is slavery so bad?” I believe at the root of this issue is how we look at other people. How do we look at people that are different than us? Do we see the “Imago Deo”, the image of God in each person? Do we see the unique handiwork of God in each person?
This comes back to how we view the “Sanctity of Life”. This affects how we view the young and old, slave and free, the rich and the poor, the fit and not so fit, the well and the ill, the born and the unborn. It is my prayer that you would reflect, pray, read and act on these things.
I do not have a way to act on the issue of slavery today other than raising our consciousness of it and putting it in context of our responsibilities as followers of the Christ. However there is a way that we can act to help in regard to Sanctity of Life. The modern day issue that gave the impetus to look at Sanctity of Life in more depth was how to deal with crisis pregnancies. Pregnancy Helpline is a local counseling service to help people at a crisis point in their lives. They are there to listen, comfort and inform. We can help make sure there is someone there to listen, comfort and inform. Please consider taking a baby bottle home, filling it with spare change and returning it on Feb. 13th.