Life Thoughts in the Church Year

Life Thoughts in the Church Year are designed to help pastors and congregations see the church year through the lens of the sanctity of human life. Life Thoughts are based on the appointed readings from Lutheran Service Book using the Three-Year Lectionary.   

Life Thoughts in the Church Year – One-Year Lectionary – July-September 2017 (PDF) 

Life Thoughts in the Church Year - One-Year Lectionary - October-December 2017 (PDF)

August 6 – Pentecost IX (Proper 13A) – Jesus shows God has as much concern for physical essentials as for spiritual necessities (Matthew 14:14). His people also care so much that we point out the world’s ways that do not sustain or save (Isaiah 55:2). Instead we put before all people (Matthew 14:16-19) the grace of God and faith in Christ that satisfies body and soul. Holy One, God over all, draw us into Your compassion to serve the vulnerable ones before us. Amen.

August 13 – Pentecost X (Proper 14A) – He who commands the winds and waves (Matthew 14:27, 32), who controls all human history and destiny (Job 38:4-18), also manages the sufferings and situations of our lives. Even the unborn, unconscious, unhealthy, and unproductive do not fall outside His everlasting arms. His incarnate love bestows riches without distinction (Romans 10:12-13). Almighty Maker of heavens and earth, take hold of all who fear and save us. Amen.

August 20 – Pentecost XI (Proper 15A) – Our words of respect and works of protection even for disregarded lives (Isaiah 56:6, Matthew 15:27) often appear to crumble under the force of popular opinion. Nevertheless, our Lord, the Father Almighty, attends to these prayers and effects life-giving mercy through them (Matthew 15:28; Romans 11:15, 29-32). Son of David and Son of God, gather us and all our fellow outcasts into Your holy house forevermore. Amen.

August 27 – Pentecost XII (Proper 16A) – Utilizing death to address disappointment makes sense to our sinful minds. Certain circumstances don’t feel worth living, and God’s ways often seem unsearchable (Romans 11:33). Yet even amid pain the very gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ’s righteous will (Matthew 16:18-19, Isaiah 51:5). His Gospel alone comforts what all others dismiss as waste places (Isaiah 51:3). Son of the Living God, transform our people into Your heavenly kingdom by renewing our minds in Christ. Amen.

September 3 – Pentecost XIII (Proper 17A) – Like Peter, the world imitates Satan in talking or acting as if some situations even Jesus shouldn’t redeem (Matthew 16:21-23). Though we often allow this or even agree, still the Lord God does not forget or forsake us (Jeremiah 15:15, 20-21). Indeed, He lifts up the lowly (Romans 12:16), because His vengeance has been repaid against our crucified Savior instead (Romans 12:19). His forgiving goodness overcomes every evil, even sins against life. Lord God of Hosts, by Your words let us bring rejoicing to those who weep. Amen.

September 10 – Pentecost XIV (Proper 18A) – We warn our neighbors to turn from abortion, embryo destruction, assisted suicide, abuse, pornography, promiscuity, and perversion (Ezekiel 33:7-9). This is not merely because it is wicked but even more because they are God’s precious children to whom He has come in Christ to share His whole kingdom (Matthew 18:3-4, 10-14). Father in heaven, strengthen us to tell brothers, sisters, and lost ones of Your deliverance. Amen.

September 17 – Pentecost XV (Proper 19A) – All human choices, including ours, affect others­—often significantly (Romans 14:7). The devil uses the illusion of autonomy to bring about death. We cannot disconnect from each other any more than God will separate from us (Romans 14:8-9). Jesus Christ surrounds us even in sin and suffering with forgiveness, compassion, fellowship, and community (Matthew 18:27) that keeps us alive (Genesis 50:20). God of all goodness, make us stand and provide for our little ones. Amen.

September 24 – Pentecost XVI (Proper 20A) – God’s plans and actions don’t always look good (Isaiah 55:8-9), especially when unforeseen events saddle us with panic and labor (Philippians 1:22). But He provides purpose and worth even in times of trouble (Philippians 1:20-21). Great reward awaits all who settle themselves into His generosity (Matthew 20:9, 15). Lord Most High, lead us to speak the Word without fear, for the sake of all our fellow laborers. Amen.

October 1 – Pentecost XVII (Proper 21A) – The lives, interests, and eternities of our neighbors have ultimate value and infinite purpose to our Heavenly Father. He holds each one as His special creature and precious child (Ezekiel 18:4, 32). This makes them also treasures to us (Philippians 2:3-4). The authority that assigns human beings their worth, even when unborn or impaired, comes from heaven and not from men (Matthew 21:23-27). Heavenly Father, lend us Your eyes to take no pleasure in anyone’s death but serve the least among us. Amen.

October 8 – Pentecost XVIII (Proper 22A) – Some suggest that present and potential sufferings justify using death as a solution. Yet even seemingly unredeemable circumstances have hope (Philippians 3:10, 14) because of our Lord’s incarnate presence and resurrection power. Our Almighty Maker never gives up (Matthew 21:36-37, 41) without cultivating life and joy for His people even where all appears lost. Good Shepherd, lead our hearts to find hope and healing in Your promises and to embody Your life and love. Amen.

October 15 – Pentecost XIX (Proper 23A) – God works life (Isaiah 25:6-9) and joy (Philippians 4:4, 12-13) in death’s domain. He welcomes especially those with broken souls and bodies (Matthew 22:8-10). How can we deny that immediate and everlasting invitation into His fellowship to any among us just because somebody judges them too little, fragile, or guilty? If this good news can change our stony hearts, then it can save any unworthy life! Lord Jesus Christ, stretch out Your people’s hearts and hands to cherish every human being as You do. Amen.

October 22 – Pentecost XX (Proper 24A) – Since God created humankind in His image, their fate belongs in His hands above Caesar’s (Matthew 22:21). Life issues are more than just private or political – they are matters of the heart, to which the Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks most directly and effectively. They must remain part of the Church’s conversation for the sake of persons struggling with them. Almighty God, impart unto us ears that rejoice to hear Your whole counsel and tongues that proclaim it with courage and compassion. Amen.

October 29 – Reformation Sunday – The Reformation truths Lutherans have celebrated for 500 years apply beautifully and powerfully to life issues. A human being’s identity and sanctity comes from God’s grace in creating, redeeming, and calling each one. Abilities or accomplishments, efforts or emotions cannot establish anyone’s value or invalidate anyone’s worth. Gracious Savior, let us honor with You the preciousness of every human person because of Your grace, forgiveness, and free salvation. Amen.

November 5 – Pentecost XXII (Proper 26A) – God’s people regard it as our privilege and delight to abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). The eternal joys of godly relationships and bodily service to neighbors (1 Thessalonians 4:9) more than make up for whatever momentary gratification we forego. Heavenly Bridegroom, captivate our hearts by Your self-giving love that we desire in body and soul to receive Your blessings and serve Your kingdom. Amen.

November 12 – Pentecost XXIII (Proper 27A) – Our Savior considers human bodies so precious that He eagerly anticipates restoring them on the Last Day (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). He has not designed humankind’s bodily existence as disposable but as indispensable to our identity and abundant life. How shall this affect our approach to illness, disability, conception, and age? King of creation, increase our respect and protection for the bodies of others with the esteem You bestow upon our own. Amen.

November 19 – Pentecost XXIV (Proper 28A) – Neighbors’ lives occupy among the highest places of all God graciously lends us (Matthew 25:14-15). We may invest ourselves in them rather than burying them (Matthew 25:22-25) before they have borne the fruit and beauty for which He purposes them  (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). With this attitude we share in His own joy! Merciful Christ, excite our spirits so to trust Your goodness that we find Your kingdom coming even amid suffering and weakness. Amen.

November 26 – Last Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 29A) – Even death lies subject to God (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). Jesus has established His dominion over it, bending it into an instrument of His life-giving will. This victory enables us to guard the gift of life especially within the least of these – where mortal minds conclude life cannot flourish but faith beholds the firstfruits of the new creation (Matthew 25:37-40). Lord of glory, let us bear Your cross alongside the undeserving and inherit the kingdom You have prepared. Amen.

December 3 – Advent I – The hand of God tenderly, intentionally forms every human person (Isaiah 64:8). No life happens by mistake (though God’s accidents would surpass humankind’s grandest feats). Inabilities due to stage or state of life do not disqualify a person any more than our sins (Isaiah 64:6) disqualify us. Without our merit or worthiness does He make us each His own, on account of His Fatherly goodness. Omniscient Lord of all, reveal to us the wonders You bring out of every human life until we cherish them all. Amen.

December 10 – Second Sunday in Advent – The Gospel of Jesus Christ extends healing forgiveness to all those involved in sins against life (Isaiah 40:1-2). God’s Word offers redemptive hope also to all those victim or vulnerable to intentional death. Our Lord does not wish that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and He lifts up those trampled underfoot (Isaiah 40:4, 11). Son of God, make straight the ways for us to meet You among those who have been thought unfit. Amen.

December 17 – Advent III – Lord Jesus specializes in bestowing dignity upon lives the world views as insignificant or inconvenient (Isaiah 61:1-2). Indeed, He has dealt with each of us according to this graciousness. Therefore we savor participating in it by speaking and showing it to both our neighbors and the culture (Isaiah 61:4). Light of Life, anoint us with Your voice of grace to bring the poor good news. Amen.

December 24 – Advent IV/Christmas Eve – Jesus brought God delicately amidst sinners, as humble in crucifixion as He was helpless in conception. Yet this estate did not hinder but in fact heralded the full realm and reign of God for us. And thereby He reaffirmed the worth of even the feeblest human beings. God’s gift of life arrives all the better for the plain packaging He habitually hides it behind. Lamb of God, make our taking hold of You to cradle Your little ones as well. Amen.

December 31 – Christmas I/New Year’s Eve – Since God has come born of a woman under the law to redeem (Galatians 4:4-5), neither age nor appearance nor ability nor any other illegitimacy will be able to separate from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39) and the right to life as His children (Galatians 4:5-6). In this fullness of time, let us not keep silent or stand still about it (Isaiah 62:1)! Christ Jesus our Lord, raise us up as banners and lamps testifying to righteousness. Amen.