Churches help people do lots of things, including — as it turns out — kill themselves.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bible-based United Church of Canada, here’s information from its website:
The United Church celebrates two sacraments — baptism and communion — by which we encounter the presence and goodness of God.
Each person is a unique, loved creation of God; we welcome all people to the full life of Christian community, including marriage.
Following the example of Jesus, we believe that we strengthen one another to work, through God’s grace, for a better world.
God’s endless generosity to us encourages our own response to contribute in many ways to God’s mission in God’s world.
Part of that mission, it appears, is to encourage people in suicide. Hence, amid loosening laws governing Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program, the church has published its Prayer in the Midst of Fear. The supplication was co-created by Sheila Noyes, former co-president of Dying With Dignity Canada. Call it a twist on the 23rd Psalm:
I am afraid. I feel fear penetrating my mind and my heart. I feel fear in my gut.
I am afraid to die. I do not know what lies beyond the barrier of death. I am afraid to release myself to the great unknown.
I am heartbroken and afraid to leave my family. I am still needed!
I have let go of hope for healing, and I hold on to hope for the next life.
I am afraid that my family and loved ones, children and grandchildren will be troubled when I tell them I plan to die using medical aid in dying…
But, in the midst of my fear, I have hope that my family and loved ones, children and grandchildren will understand the choice to end my suffering.
I hope they will be proud of my decision and will understand that MAID is consistent with the love and compassion of Jesus. I have such peace in knowing this is my choice. My family loves me but they cannot feel my suffering, they cannot comprehend my helplessness.
I have hope and assurances that my death will be gentle. I am grateful that I can make this choice, for I am terrified of dying in pain and being helpless.
It’s a curious contribution by a group based on a book touting not only life, but life more abundant. Then again, regarding religion, these are the days of revolution:
Canada’s MAID has been on offer since 2016. And on March 17th of next year, the program will extend to those suffering from mental illness. According to Canada.ca, citizens will “not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.”
Back to the United Church of Canada, its prayer composers have also penned one for children whose parents self-terminate:
We know they are hurting. We have seen them cry. We have seen our parent cry and other people cry. It makes us afraid.
We will miss our parent, we will miss their smile, we will miss their stories, and we will miss their fun.
Did you know that mom loved camping, God? She really loved camping.
We do not know where they are going, but we know they will stop hurting. We are glad they will stop hurting.
We are not sure what happens when a person dies. Maybe part of them goes to a better place. Dear God, please take care of our parent when they die. Hug them very close and take care of them after, too.
Also on the church site:
The Bible is the shared standard for our faith, but members are not required to adhere to any particular creed or formulation of doctrine.
A new day is dawning — everywhere, including in houses of worship around the world.
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