You can tell a great deal about a culture by its art. The creations that reveal its thoughts, its angst, its joys, its pains. We see this in our movies. Recently, I had a great movie critic attend a movie with me. She’s my 17-year-old daughter. And we went to see Aquaman. I don’t know if you know this, but the DC Comics and Marvel Comics movies have, over the past 20 movies, grossed nearly 17 billion dollars worldwide.
How many of you have seen Aquaman? It was okay.
I asked her, “What did you think about this movie?” And she said, “You know, there’s two things. First of all, Jason Momoa is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.” Teenage daughter, movie critic. And the second thing she said is, “You know, these movies are all becoming very predictable.” They all start off with an ordinary or even extra ordinary person who falls into some great calamity with an antagonist, which usually involves earth, humanity, or the universe about to be destroyed. Then the person, the guy or the girl, must discover their true self, their true identity, be renewed in that, and then at the very last moment, when everything is about to be devastated, they save all of creation.
The reason these movies are so popular is our desperate need of heroes. Our culture longs for heroes. And the reason is, we find some sort of identification in a person who discovers their true identity and does amazing things. They have to connect with their identity, their true identity, and it usually happens because someone or something speaks truth into them and tells them, really, who they are. And we’re desperate for that in ourselves. Which is why we pay again and again to see the same plot lines of movies, we want a hero.
But the Scriptures have also told us something heroic in us. It’s told us that God, our true hero, has created us in His image and that, deep inside of you, you are more than a random collision of biochemistry and biology. You are created Imago Dei, in the image of God. And because of that, you are worthy of eternal dignity and have an eternal destiny. And so many of us live our lives scraping by, hoping to find someone or something that can give us value and dignity in this world. It might be a job, a future, wealth. It might be relationships or legacy or power. But all along God’s identity was formed in you before you were born.
My kids and I love to open our iPhotos on our laptop and look at pictures from their youngest days to now. I have five children, ages 18, 15, 12, 11, and nine. The 18-year-old to the nine-year-old, they all like to look at pictures of themselves as young children and to see their progression. And the reason is that they know they are more than just an image. They know they are a person and have worth and value, and the pictures reveal that. They are beautifully and wonderfully made, as are you, based on Psalm 139.
You do not have to do great things to give you value. We are made great by God who has loved us for an eternity. I think that’s a great truth for us to hear this morning. It’s a truth that changes us. Because we have value as God’s image bearers, we are speaking truth today to a culture about our unborn brothers and sisters, who are also worthy of our protection, our affection, and our consecration.
I recently read that the greatest cause of death in the year 2018 was abortion. Staggering numbers of more than 40 million people plus, created in the image of God, who lost their lives. Of all the forms of injustice, and there are many and they are horrible, such as trafficking, war, disease, poverty, all these things that wage against people created in the image of God and humanity. Still, of all of them, death by abortion is the greatest without a close second. This is one of the silent injustices of our day.
What is one of the mighty deeds of God that we heard in Psalm 78? That He has made us in His image. That He made you and me. That He placed in you His imprint, His character. That you have life.
What does Jesus promise us? Life, an abundant life.
This is one of the great reasons our very own American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, pondered a deep question. I know it’s early in the morning, but you have to think deeply with me for just a second. Edwards said, “If God, who is eternal and has existed forever without a beginning, and all that we see and know is finite and temporary, what was God doing before anything was?” And Edwards concluded this, as have many greats in the Church–that God was immensely and deeply satisfied within Himself. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and the Spirit glorifies Them. And out of that great community of Trinity, out of that great love, creation overflowed and spilled out through the Son. And you, brothers and sisters, are the crowning point of God’s creation, made in His image. And you, not the stars, are what bring Him joy.
Listen to God speak to the Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you before you were born. I set you apart. I consecrated you.” Friends, we have been destined for dignity. Created in beauty.
Ephesians 2:10. This reading is chock full of great theological premises, but the end says we are God’s handiwork. We are His workmanship. We are His masterpiece. The Greek word poiema, means His poem, His literature, His art. You are such a beautiful sonnet to the Lord. You could even stretch out and say you’re the song He sings in the universe.
We stand today and we march today for everyone born and unborn, because their lives are precious, since they were formed by God.
Lastly, this day, this weekend, we also speak truth to a culture with a confused value of life. So mixed up. So inconsistent. So arbitrary and so random. And often so unwilling to listen and hear the truth before them. Everyone old and young, unplanned, unwanted, un-needed, are in God’s eyes beautiful. And because of that, they are worthy of our protection.
We stand and we march, and we tell the mighty deeds of God. That before we are born, we have been loved, and made in His image. We stand before power and we sing along with this great song, fan into flame Lord creations design. All that Your image is, in us we refine. Glory to Father and glory to Son, glory to Spirit to three and one.
We stand and we march because our stand is powerful. Because we stand with all the company of Heaven. We stand with those lost to injustice. We stand against a culture of death. We stand and we say, this is not how it should be.
In the name of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Written by The Rev. Alan Hawkins, from Church of the Redeemer Greensboro, NC. This sermon was given at the Worship and Prayer Service at The Falls Church Anglican prior to the 2019 March for Life. This article was originally featured in the February 2019 Carpe Diem newsletter.