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Amazing grace

February 9, 2009

by Pastor Orval Wirkkala, Apostolic Lutheran Church, Kingston

As my wife and I, along with Pastor Wally Glucklich and some members of the Elim Mission congregation, walked toward the state of Minnesota capitol building in St. Paul Jan. 22, the loud and majestic, but mournful strains of John Newton’s “Amazing Grace,” being played through bagpipes, floated through the air to our ears.

Soon, we would be joining the large throng of people (between 4,000 and 5,000) who were gathering to mark the 37th anniversary of the decision which was passed by our Supreme Court in 1973, legalizing abortion, the taking of the life of a child in the womb.

It is estimated that approximately 50 million unborn children have been killed through abortion in America since that time. This gathering takes place annually on the anniversary date of that decision and is sponsored by the organization called Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life (MCCL).

Many of us marched around the grounds that day, carrying signs on which messages promoting the culture of life were displayed. After the march, speeches were made by various leaders of our state, as well as those who are leaders in MCCL.

One emphasis in particular struck a chord with me. A speaker noted that in our Constitution of these United States of America, every citizen is guaranteed the right to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. It was pointed out that if we do not keep these in proper sequence, and there is no life to live in order to enjoy liberty and to pursue happiness – well, how does that work?

Another speaker noted that change begins in our hearts, and as a result of inward change and outward attitudes, convictions and practices change and over time, laws are changed that reflect the attitudes and convictions of the people. Therefore, we must pray that God’s truths would be accepted and received in the heart of all people.

As I walked away from the gathering, to the music again playing the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace,” I thought of the words of the song. I thought to myself, why, Lord, have I never come here before to show my support for those who have devoted their lives to promoting life, and to resisting those forces that would diminish and devalue life? Why have I been so indifferent to the cries of those who have no voice, who cry from within the womb? What has been preventing me from being more involved publicly in this cause?

The words of “Amazing Grace” were being pressed into my heart as the music slowly faded away and we left the area:

“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, I was blind, but now I see.”

Then the second verse came to me: “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed.”

For a moment, as we walked away, I caught a glimpse of the heart of our Creator for His creation; for those who have been not allowed to live, for those who are living with the regret of abortion, for those who believe that they are justified in the killing of the unborn, and for those, such as myself, who typically do not want to get involved, or do not think it necessary to be involved outside of our churches.

Through the music and the words, I heard the Lord calling to me: “My grace is greater than all your sin. May the reawakening of My grace in your heart motivate and inspire you to My truth in all things, both in the church as well as outside of it. But remember, I love all my people – be graceful unto all even as I have been graceful to you.”