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.
May 5 – Sixth Sunday of Easter – As we strive to overcome the tribulations of the world and the constant attack on God’s truths, remember that Jesus already overcame the root cause of it all—sin (John 16:33). So He tells us to “take heart,” or “take courage.” We strive in victory, not for victory. Our battle cry is not, “We shall overcome,” but, “He has overcome.” Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your victory of sin and death. Help us live in this victory.
May 12 – Seventh Sunday of Easter – This Sunday marks the last Sunday of Easter, but not the last of Easter’s hope! It goes with us and sustains us. Jesus’ resurrection gives us the assurance that what Jesus prays for will be accomplished. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory … ” (John 17:24a). The certain hope of seeing Jesus’ glory helps us deal with our very inglorious world. Prayer: Father, enable us to dwell on Your glory instead of seeking our own glory.
May 19 – Day of Pentecost – “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Trouble and fear-free hearts do not necessarily mean the absence of trouble or fearful circumstances, but the presence of the Spirit of our resurrected and Ascended Savior. Prayer: Through Word and Sacrament may we continually hear You say, “Let not your heart be troubled.”
May 26 – The Holy Trinity – The grand, incomprehensible mystery of the Holy Trinity testifies to the incomprehensible love of God for human life. The Trinity is “designed” for relationship to human life. The crown of God’s creation was human life. The object of Christ’s redemptive work was human life. The Spirit brings faith and the presence of God to human life. Honoring life honors the Holy Trinity. Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us see that in honoring You we honor human life.
June 2 – Second Sunday after Pentecost – “But say the word …” (Luke 7:7) Therein lies the power of God to save, to heal, to change lives. Everything the Church does, therefore, must be based on the Word. Admonition without the Word becomes morality. Comfort and hope become psychology. Without the Word, dealing with the life issues becomes political. “But say the word” and there is power for holy living, forgiveness and certain hope, and real change in people’s lives. Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep us ever focused on the truth of Your Word.
June 9 – Third Sunday after Pentecost – In both the Old Testament and Gospel readings we see the ultimate miracle, sons raised from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 7:11-17). Yet they present but a tiny picture of what will happen because God raised His Son from the dead! All the dead in Christ will be raised to eternal life. Death is a defeated enemy! Prayer: Lord, may Your defeat of death give us courage as we confront a culture of death.
June 16 – Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – Because of her sinful life, the woman in today’s Gospel (Luke 7:36-50) did not feel worthy to anoint Jesus’ head, only His feet. Because of the nature of the sin of abortion, many do not feel worthy to approach Jesus at all. “He could never forgive this sin.” This text presents the opportunity to direct the words of Jesus to such sinners, “Your sins are forgiven” (7:48). Prayer: Jesus, help those with an abortion in their past to receive Your ever- present forgiveness.
June 23 – Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – Galatians 4:4-6 reminds us that we become God’s children through adoption. But the Bible never refers to us as “adopted children,” only as “children” declared worthy of an eternal inheritance through Christ. This can help change our thinking about adoption. When couples receive the gift of children through adoption, those children are their own children. Prayer: Father, thank You for the gift of children through adoption.
June 30 – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – Elijah felt all alone and despaired of his life (1 Kings 19:4, 10). Then God whispered (19:12b). He promised the destruction of Israel’s enemies. He promised Elijah was not alone. Do you feel discouraged because of the seeming triumph of so much evil? Listen to the whisper of God’s promises. They contain more power and hope than rock-splitting winds or mountain-shaking earthquakes. Prayer: Lord, give us faith to trust in the whisper of your promises.
July 7 – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – You love to have the grandchildren stay at your house, but when that “boo-boo” happens their little hearts seek a higher power. “I want my MOMMY!” The Bible pictures God as our Father who created us, provides for us, and protects us. But on occasion, in describing God’s tender nurture and compassion, the analogy goes to Mommy (Isaiah 49:15; 66:10-14; Matthew 23:37). A mother’s love for her child is worthy of God to claim and of us to champion. Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You for your motherly love and care. Give us faith and courage to champion Your love and the love of mothers for their babies. Amen.
July 14 – Eighth Sunday after Pentecost – Those redeemed by God shall not walk in the ways of the world around them (Leviticus 18:1-5). God “transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13b). We therefore bear the fruit of His love in dealing with our neighbor, those vulnerable and in need (Luke 10:25-37). And let’s not forget our neighbors in Petri dishes, wombs, and nursing home beds. Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us love our neighbors as You have loved us, and keep us mindful of our tiniest and most vulnerable neighbors. Amen.
July 21 – Ninth Sunday after Pentecost – Precise angles are important. A one degree shift at the base of a tower will have the top of that tower leaning precariously. Those reconciled in Christ to be holy and blameless are to remain “stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:23). Small “shifts” in Gospel truth have resulted in marriage, sexuality, and the value of life to lean precariously. Like Paul, may we “struggle with all his [Christ’s] energy that he powerfully works within” us (1:29) to keep things straight. Prayer: Gracious Lord, forgive our daily “shifts” from Your truth. Restore us to a straight path and use us to straighten the path. Amen.
July 29 – Tenth Sunday after Pentecost – Buried and raised with Christ in baptism, our record of sinful debt cancelled, sin and evil defeated (Colossians 2:6-15), we can undeservedly but joyfully pray, “Father” (Luke 11:2). As a dear father listens to his dear children, so our heavenly Father listens to us. Include in your prayers a petition for restoration of the God-given value of life in our churches and our culture. Prayer: Our Father, as baptized children, hear our prayer. May Your wrath not be kindled against Your people for failing to uphold the value of life. Rather restore in us all a strong desire to be voices for life. Amen.
August 4 – Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – The founder of Compassion and Choices, the pro-death movement in our country, once said, “The economy more than anything else will drive the assisted suicide movement.” In the face of suffering, it can be easy to set our minds on riches, on “things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2b) and make decisions that hasten death. But Paul reminds us “Set your minds on things that are above” (3:2a) for “Christ is all, and in all” (3:10c). Prayer: Lord, conform our minds to the mind of Christ and focus our attention upward. Amen.
August 11 – Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – Anxiety over the basic necessities of life can lead to faithless thinking. “We can’t afford this baby.” “We can’t afford to keep grandma alive.” But faith in the certainty that God declares us righteous for the sake of Jesus also gives certainty to our Savior’s words, “[D]o not be anxious about your life” (Luke 12:22b). “Fear not, little flock” (12:32a). Prayer: Father, give us faith in the certainty that the love You demonstrated to us on the cross is a love that can never forsake us. Amen.
August 18 – Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – The truth of Christ’s words sometimes cause division (Luke 12:49-53). Woe to those who seek to avoid this by always proclaiming, “It shall be well with you” and, “No disaster shall come upon you” (Jeremiah 23:17). Moral disaster has come upon our land and spiritual disaster to our churches. The truth of Christ must be courageously proclaimed to these disasters so the healing of Christ can bring change. Prayer: Father forgive us when we fail to call wrong things wrong. Embolden us to do so that we might then joyfully proclaim what You have done about wrong things in Jesus. Amen.
August 25 – Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – As we struggle with our sinfulness and the daily sins that flow from it, what hope to know that “some who are last will be first” (Luke 13:30b). As we struggle with things gone bad and getting worse, what comfort in knowing that our Father “disciplines the one he loves” (Hebrews 12:5b) so our faith becomes strong and clings to Christ so we might “share in his holiness” (12:10b). Prayer: Heavenly Father, enable me to acknowledge my sin, receive Your forgiveness in Christ, and endure hardships knowing that You are at work doing what is best for Your children. Amen.
September 1 – Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Jesus “suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12). He calls His sanctified people to join Him “outside the camp” (13:13). Living the sanctified life and upholding God’s truths does not just take place with words in sacred places but with deeds “outside the camp” that engage our neighbors’ spiritual and physical needs and bearing the reproach of Christ if necessary. Prayer: Lord, give us opportunities to uphold Your truth in our lives each day and the strength to bear reproach if necessary. Amen.
September 8 – Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – The fundamental choice in Deuteronomy 30:15-20 is not “choose life” (30:19). It is to turn away from idols and trust God. The choice of life naturally follows when we trust that the God who delivered us from sin and death through Jesus Christ will not abandon us in our trials and earthly sufferings. So, trust God and choose life! Prayer: Father, help us to trust in You above all things. Amen.
September 15 – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – “To the King of ages, immortal invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17). Paradoxically Paul’s praise here is precipitated by God leaving His kingly throne, laying aside His immortality, and becoming visible as a man to suffer and die on a cross! Today’s readings portray our God who comes to seek and save sinners, indeed, the worst of sinners! What a praise-worthy message for us all, and especially for those with a specific sin that seems so much worse than other sins. Prayer: Good Shepherd, thank You for coming to us in our lost condition and forgiving the worst of sins and the worst of sinners just like me. Amen.
September 22 – Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Would we not include embryos in Petri dishes and babies in wombs among those whom God desires “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”? (1 Timothy 2:4) Should this not move us to value them? Should this not prevent us from harming them? Should this not embolden us to defend them and speak up for them? Prayer: Author and Redeemer of life, help us treat every human being as someone you desire to call into an eternal relationship with You. Amen.
September 29 – St. Michael and All Angels – Today we hear of Michael the great warrior angel (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7) and also of what we commonly call “guardian angels” (Matthew 18:10). Whether battling the devil or watching over “the little ones,” their great power and devotion to the heavenly Father remains the same. No matter what we may experience in life, what a comfort to know that the angels who watch us in our weak and vulnerable spiritual condition, also behold our Father. Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your holy angels and the praise they bring to You by serving us. Amen.