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.

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Life Thoughts in the Church Year - One-Year Lectionary (Word)

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December 2 – Advent I – Advent brings the gift of anticipating: “none who wait for … [the Lord] shall be put to shame” (Psalm 25:3). A surprise pregnancy likewise invites patient faith instead of using death as a solution to difficulty. So does struggling with infertility or enduring permanent disability. Our Father’s salvation comes, not sluggish but steadfast (Psalm 25:10). Life is His promise, and He will move heaven and earth to fulfill it (Jeremiah 33:14). Son of David, our coming King, establish us in hope. Amen.

December 9 – Advent II – The Gospel of God’s grace awakens us to approve what is excellent (Philippians 1:10). Is facilitating a suicide “excellent”? Is experimenting on embryos a “fruit of righteousness”? Is advocating for abortion access “pure and blameless”? These involve ending a life that began by the holy work of God. And even when we cannot foresee how, He will bring it to completion, as sure as Jesus finished His mission, as sure as we ourselves exist. Gracious Savior, fill our hearts and throats with Your glory and praise. Amen.

December 16 – Advent III – The sinful world condemns unborn children and elderly persons because of inadequate age or unacceptable appearance or impaired abilities. The Lord clears away these enemies (Zephaniah 3:15) with His unconditional love. Law and conscience convict us of promoting and even participating in violence against life. The Lord also takes away these judgments with His forgiveness and redemption. Prince of Peace, make us not offended by Your Word of life. Amen.

December 23 – Advent IV – Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth (Luke 1:44) provides proof that unborn ones have life in the womb. This joyful Gospel also proclaims that human beings have utmost value even before birth. Micah’s oracle (Micah 5:2) likewise confirms that the Lord loves little ones, and Hebrews 10:10 explains that the infant Immanuel consecrates us all so sacred and special to God. Messiah of Bethlehem, move us to embrace the least of these in Your tenderness. Amen.

December 30 – Christmas I – Simeon had to wait for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25). No doubt his unfulfilled longings robbed him of dignity in the eyes of observers. But his extended approach toward death gave uplifting witness to the Lord’s relentless faithfulness. Equipped with this greater dignity, Simeon offered even his sufferings as sacrifice to serve the Lord’s will and the wellbeing of others. As we also die with Christ, He dignifies our deaths as well. Ancient of Days, we commend our lives and our deaths into Your hands. Amen.

January 6 – Epiphany of Our Lord – The Heavenly Father welcomed outsiders into His household at Christmas (Matthew 2:1, 11). He even escorted them toward His nativity and incarnation by an extraordinary gesture. His loving grace held the magi as precious as His own Son, regardless of their origin and location. God’s favor shines the same way upon unborn ones, even in their sometimes unfavorable circumstances. And His forgiveness embraces all sinners—even those with histories checkered by violence against life.

January 13 – Baptism of Our Lord – With this One, His Son veiled in frail human flesh, the heart of Almighty God is well-pleased (Luke 3:22). Through the same Jesus Christ, He creates, redeems, and calls (Isaiah 43:1-2) every member of our race to be His own beloved child. Since He stands in our place, even our sicknesses and sorrows do not represent punishments but rather opportunities for Him to shower blessing.

January 20 – Epiphany II – Life issues such as infertility, surprise pregnancy, or terminal diagnosis can loom like six stone jars (John 2:6). They remind us of our imperfections and our need for cleansing. As at Cana, Jesus still compassionately intervenes. He makes life issues speak instead the sweetness of His miraculous but mysterious salvation from the shadows of death. Let us delight to proclaim it lest the stones shame us by their crying out.

January 27 – Epiphany III – It’s never just a personal choice when the devil deceives people into using death as a solution. Baptism into Christ’s family makes us brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. “If one member suffers, all suffer together …” (1 Corinthians 12:26a). Our Gospel-motivated voices can keep endangered neighbors from suffering with life-and-death situations in silence and solitude. Lending our shoulders to help carry their crosses can change hearts, save lives, and gain their fellowship.

February 3 – Epiphany IV – We have the privilege of participating in divine love. It never just stands by (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). The heavenly love our Savior works in us steps in, especially when conditions become predicaments. This love beholds and brings out an individual’s infinite value no matter what other pressures obscure it (Jeremiah 1:5, Luke 4:33).

February 10 – Epiphany V – Our fear of our own unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5) and slow tongues can make us mute about marginalized lives. That’s why the merciful Maker has touched our tongues (Isaiah 6:7) with His transformative Word and placed His life-giving power upon our lips. We need not doubt that even out of our mouths the Spirit of our Father speaks a wisdom no adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.

February 17 – Epiphany VI – Blessed are the pretty? Blessed are the popular, the prosperous, the powerful? The Author of Life does not evaluate according to productivity. Blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20ff.)! Blessed are the hungry, the weeping, the excluded and reviled ones among humankind! Blessed are the embryos, the elderly, and the incapacitated persons on account of the Son of Man who brings forth life where the world writes it off.

February 24 – Epiphany VII – Death never comes as a friend. Death always arrives as enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). It doesn’t offer a gentle and effective solution to distress but instead imposes ultimately greater suffering and difficulty. Attempting treaties with death delivers only captivity rather than the control it advertises. Christ Jesus, crucified and risen for our well-being, exercises authority over how we live and when we die so that we don’t have to bear the burden.

March 3 – Transfiguration of Our Lord – God has a habit of hiding great glory in ordinary and otherwise unfit settings. So, in 30-something, manual-laborer Jesus, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Luke 9:29, 34-35). Through bloody crucifixion, forgiveness and salvation sneak in. Everyday syllables, tap water, bits of bread, and sips of wine smuggle everlasting life. And frightened bellies, frozen labs, nursing homes, and hospitalized comas cradle priceless treasures bearing God’s own image.

March 10 – Lent I – Satan goaded Jesus to produce physical proof of His identity and importance (Luke 4:3). But God’s promise and power entitled Him to life even in the absence of bread (Luke 4:4). The evil one still insists we gauge a person by material measures. Thanks to our Savior, no one’s age, appearance, or ability can impair or improve their sanctity. God’s creating, redeeming, and calling Word already renders every human being precious.

March 17 – Lent II – My body, my choice? We don’t have to settle for so little. Each human body belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20-21)! He paid by dying and rising to make it His twice over. He is perfecting it after the pattern of His own glorified body. Even on earth and amid adversity, He declares and demonstrates His heavenly kingdom through our bodies. My body, God’s gift! His bidding, my delight!

March 24 – Lent III – God finds no pleasure in death (Ezekiel 33:11), whether of the wicked or of the innocent. Neither will we, particularly since He has delivered us instead into the position of watchmen for life (Ezekiel 33:7). We have responsibility for warning about the evils of abortion, embryo experiments, and physician-assisted suicide (Ezekiel 33:8). And we get the privilege of winning over hearts, rescuing eternities, and making brothers of neighbors (Ezekiel 33:14-16) by the Gospel of His unconditional love.

March 31 – Lent IV – Many who take part in violence against life feel like prodigals (Luke 15:13). Our Lord never ceases to see Himself as Father even to these (Luke 15:22-24). He breaks His heart open as much for them as for their victims. He keeps reaching out in reconciliation with the relief, healing, and cheer they seek. We know the way to our generous God because He has guided us on that way Himself.