Mixed Messages

This is by no means a commentary on my specific church; rather, it’s an observation about the Church at large, from experiences at many different congregations upon the observance of All Saints’ Day.

The Church, (at least the LC-MS), is staunchly pro-life. This is great news! From the pregnancy that is hours old, to the most elderly person, we recognize that only God has the right to decide the length of our days. And so, we realize that it is not our job to act in His stead and force those kinds of decisions, regardless of the circumstances.

The Church also has a history of reassuring parents that have lost children in utero that they can hope to see that child in Heaven someday. Do we know for certain that children, lost before they had the chance to make it to the waters of Holy Baptism, are in Heaven? I suppose not–not any more than we can guarantee that any specific person is in Heaven–only God knows for sure. But we are a people of hope, and that hope is usually shared with parents grieving the loss of a child following a miscarriage or stillbirth.

So then, why the mixed message that is sent on All Saints’ Day? In all of the churches I’ve been to, I’ve never heard mention of children lost before they have drawn their first breath when the year’s faithful departed are named. But if we are to share and believe in that hope of eternal life, even for children miscarried, and if we believe, as we should, that they were people from the moment of their conception, shouldn’t they be numbered with the Saints in Heaven?

I realize that this is a daunting task. Many children lost at such a young gestational age are never given names; many of the losses are never even shared publicly or recognized. And in a large congregation, remembering every such loss, (because according to the statistics, there are a lot of them), could be time-consuming. But even a blanket remembrance of those lost, a mention of those babies miscarried, would be a comfort to grieving parents, a reassurance that they can hope to see their child in Heaven someday, and a way of acknowledging to parents that their children are never forgotten.

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