The idea to carol had come in what seemed to me a Holy Spirit tap to my friend Sally.
We’d just learned that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards would be visiting Fargo for a fundraising gala in our city. It seemed right that those of us who have seen the darkness of this organization would want to do something to express our feelings. Our pro-life community here aims for peaceful discourse, and Sally had thought perhaps we could protest with Christmas carols.
As I thought of the very pro-life sentiments expressed in traditional carols heralding the birth of our savior, and his mother’s “yes” despite difficult circumstances, I couldn’t help but see how perfect it was. Additionally, Downtown Fargo is always so festive this time of year, and everyone would know the songs.
Within the hour, Sally discovered that a national pro-life organization was suggesting this very thing. Pro-Life Action League calls it “Empty Manger Christmas Caroling;” the empty manger to symbolize all the babies who will not have a chance to enter and bless our world because of abortion. It also suggests the wearing of red, and red balloons to depict the martyred little ones.
And so it was set in motion. Sally worked hard preparing a beautiful poster to exemplify our thoughts, along with song sheets, and invited others to join us.
Soon, we were hearing from people from areas outside of Fargo, even Bismarck, which is three hours from here, wanting to be part of the gathering.
At 5 p.m. last night, Dec. 3, my friend Madonna and middle son and I showed up with our caroling sheets, warm clothing and ready hearts. Within a short amount of time, Sally led us into the first carol; the singing lasted for three hours.
Though I made the mistake of turning my camera horizontally partway through, making for a tipped glance of the scene, here’s at least a little of “Silent Night” sideways.
Because of an Advent program involving my youngest son that I wouldn’t think of missing, I was able to commit to the first hour. In that hour, I witnessed quite a bit.
As soon as we arrived, one of the ladies with the pink signs — the door guards to Ecce Gallery, which hosted the event — barked at my son for being too close to the door. The tension at the entry was evident! But we were not there to block anyone; just to sing. We compliantly moved over, grabbed our signs and sheets, and joined in.
I overheard the “pink-sign ladies” say that they weren’t from Fargo; this was their first time in our city.
Soon, gala attendees began showing up. Most looked very polished and giddy. This was a big night for them, after all. It doesn’t get any bigger in the pro-choice movement than Cecile, right?
By the time they’d begun arriving, we carolers were lining the sidewalks on both sides. Participants ended up being flanked by us and our caroling on their way in, and out. Camera crews also arrived, and security measures were in place with cops on either end and sometimes walking in between. And we sang on, with our empty manger present, right across from the door, a sign of our sadness and empty arms. Estimates of carolers who joined in at some point through the night came in at 100 to 150.
Most of us thought for sure that the honored guest would be brought in through a back door, so we were caught off guard when suddenly, Cecile brushed past us. Too slow to get a photo of her close up, I did catch a glimpse of her (background) as she was entering the event.
My favorite picture of the evening was one taken of my friend Erin Hill, who was photo-bombed by Cecile. Isn’t Erin adorable?
I found it interesting witnessing up close those in our community and surrounding area who support the nation’s largest abortion-provider and laud its leader. Now that I have their faces in my mind, I can pray more fervently for their conversions. Because truly, we do have solutions other than abortion to help our women, right here in Fargo; ways that are just and right and hope-filled.
Our world needs conversion. All of us do in some way. Advent is the time to reflect on what we can do to make a difference.
And many are trying. I was delighted to see this woman show up by herself to represent “Native Americans against Planned Parenthood.” God bless her!
I was also heartened to hear from a man who, on the way in, asked for our prayers. He said he wasn’t for Planned Parenthood but had donated a dollar to get into the “show” and hear what they had to say. Apparently, on the way out, he grabbed a sign that said “Dads for Life” and held the door open for all those leaving the gala, sign in hand, since the pink ladies had since disappeared.
This same fellow shared with a protester, who gave him some hand-warmers, that he could hear our singing from inside the gala, and that our songs had “restored his faith.” Hearing this brought so much joy to my heart, because my hope before the event was that our carols would resound into the building. I didn’t know how close we’d get, nor whether our melodies would reach those inside. Knowing they did blessed me greatly!
There were a few moments that caused chuckling, too. One of our protesters, who had dressed up for a Christmas party to take place after the event, reported that the pink ladies thought she was a gala participant, and tried ushering her through the door. Oops! No, she wasn’t there to see Cecile. It can get a little confusing when two groups of fellow humans with different agendas meet up in a common spot. Deep down, we have more in common than not, after all.
One more happy story. I caught one of the women heading into the gala singing “First Noel” with us. Happy to welcome anyone to join us at any time.
As we left, more people of all ages (that’s a neat thing about the pro-life movement: we are YOUNG) continued to pour in and we knew that the event would continue in capable hands.
News reports came quickly afterward. This one seemed the most balanced to many of us. Thanks, Linda, for being brave on our behalf.
One friend, who’d helped in getting the ball rolling on this event, aptly summed up the night thus: “The dark stood for death inside in the light, while the light stood for life outside in the dark.”
I thought this said it well, too.
And while we know Jesus was planned, to the world, he was unplanned, and unwanted. And yet, look at what his life became for us: everything.
Upon exiting Downtown, I entered the refuge of a place appropriately called Church of the Nativity, where we were blessed to see our fifth child participate in a program announcing the son of God’s entrance into our world (our guy is the one to the far right). On so many levels, this was such a fitting and welcomed final ending to my evening. Thank you, Lord, for my children, who bless me every day. Through them, I see YOU!
A glance at their performance: “Come, Messiah, Come.”
Yes, please do. And soon!