Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 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. While this is not an official event on our denomination’s calendar, 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
“If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are!” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27, The Message)
The Belhar Confession says that the unity we find in Christ must be made visible and active in our lives so that we “together know and bear one another's burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness . . .” (Belhar Confession, Art. 2).
This Sunday, as we honor the Sanctity of Human Life, we grieve the reality that racism threatens the health and flourishing of moms and babies.
Because of racism, abortion has disproportionately affected communities of color. In the United States today, a black child is three times more likely to be aborted than a white child.
Children in their first year of life face greater health risks for sickness and even death if they are black, Indigenous, or of color. Studies show that these disparities remain true even when class, income, and education are taken into account.
Every day approximately 830 women die globally from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Pray for the safety and protection of women and children who are vulnerable to abortion, and of those who face risks during pregnancy and childbirth, particularly people of color.
World Renew works around the world to support vulnerable mothers and their babies. To support the programs that are giving new hope where life is precarious, visit worldrenew.net.
Legislation can address the root causes of these disparities and can move the U.S. and Canada closer to equity for moms and babies of every race and ethnicity. Sign up to receive action alerts at justice.crcna.org/connect.
Planning Worship Resources
Love is patient.
How long, oh Lord, will we wait for an end to abortion? Give us new ideas, fresh compassion, and renewed purpose as we hope for a day when all lives are valued, and that anything that stands in the way of a baby being born -- money, support, sickness, stress, racism -- would be met with a deep, lasting solution.
Love is kind.
Give us kindness. Not niceness, which stays silent in the face of injustice, but kindness which sees others as fully human, and offers the resources that you’ve given us to advocate for everyone’s flourishing.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
If there is a part in us that judges others, or considers ourselves better than another, root it out of us, Lord. We are all sinners, we have all been saved not by our goodness, but by your grace. May this community be a place not of boasting but of welcome for women and men who have experienced abortion.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
God, people feel so strongly about abortion. And we know that there are likely people in this room who disagree with one another about how to solve the problem of abortion, or how to protect unborn life, or how to address the inequalities that give some babies a chance at flourishing and prevent others from the same. Some see this as a simple issue. Others see more complexity. Help us to honor each other. You created the church to be unified in the face of difference. So whenever we talk about political issues, help us to remember those who are most impacted -- women of color, babies not yet born, those who grieve after the loss of a child, or who face impossible situations while pregnant. Help us to honor them in the ways we talk and argue, in the ways we debate, in the ways we vote.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Give us eyes to bravely see the ways that racism has impacted black and brown and Indigenous women, and their babies, even if knowing that truth leaves us feeling helpless or defensive or sad. And as we know better, help us to do better -- to see people as wholly beloved by you, to embrace one another in relationships and community, to advocate for changes in policies and practices that could save the lives of mothers and babies.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
In the face of racism, death, and grief, give us a renewed vision for your good news, Oh Lord. Protect us from complacency, give us trust that each life is in your hands, give us hope that racism and its evil impacts will someday come to an end, and help us to persevere in seeking that day -- bravely considering our own hearts, our own relationships, and our own power to change systems and structures so they reflect the heart of the gospel.
Love never fails.
You don’t fail us, Lord. In this strong truth, we pray.
These bulletin inserts are available for your church to use during Sunday worship. The picture above is the back side of the bulletin insert. Order them from the Faith Alive website here. The deadline for ordering bulletin inserts is December 19.
Note: If you already ordered our bulletin inserts through the church ordering link you received from the CRCNA, you don't need to order them again.
Things to Remember as You Plan
- 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.
Other Education Resources
God’s gift of life multiplies. We’ve taken that gift for granted. Abortion happens for a variety of reasons, rooted in humanity’s disregard for the value of life.
The statistics from around the world are staggering, but so are those close to home. One in three American women and nearly one in three Canadian women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Abortion hurts women, but our culture seeks to normalize its practice.
The Church Speaks
There are three important CRC synodical studies and statements on abortion, family planning, and life issues that may be helpful as we educate ourselves and become active in preventing abortions and nurturing life. Learn more about what the CRC has said about abortion.