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.

Also available:    

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

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

September 1 – Pentecost XII (Proper 17C) – Supporters of abortion suggest babies with disabilities are better off not being born. Advocates of assisted suicide also presume certain injuries and illnesses make life too burdensome. But Jesus calls us all fallen and helpless—and then rewrites His commandments to save us as sons and daughters (Luke 14:2-5). He receives “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:13) as honored guests, and invites us also to celebrate the blessing of each one.

September 8 – Pentecost XIII (Proper 18C) – Philemon viewed Onesimus as a slave (Philemon 16). The Apostle Paul knew Onesimus as a brother created, redeemed, and called by their one Lord Jesus. A clump of cells? A blob of tissue? A tumor and a parasite? Vegetative or better off dead? Definitely not! A human being! A fellow member of our sacred race! A bearer of God’s own image! Precious treasure, gift and privilege, just like you!

September 15 – Pentecost XIV (Proper 19C) – Paul confesses to some serious wickedness: “I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” (1 Timothy 1:13). Abortion also belongs to this list of severe sins. Only His own even greater mercy compelled Christ Jesus to come into the world, bringing precisely the grace, love, patience, and eternal life that our evil deeds attempted but failed to obtain for us. He saves nobody but sinners and forgives even the foremost violences against life (1 Timothy 1:15).

September 22 – Pentecost XV (Proper 20C) – God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Doesn’t “all people” include every genetic member of our species? Doesn’t “be saved” mean live, from this time forth even unto forevermore? Doesn’t “God desires” indicate not limited to a certain age or conditional upon a particular ability? And doesn’t “come to the knowledge of the truth” motivate us to speak?

September 29 – Pentecost XVI (Proper 21C) – The rich man knew Lazarus’s name (Luke 16:24) but refused to treat him as a human being (Luke 16:19-21). Categorizing Lazarus as a nonentity enabled him to “feast sumptuously.” When we neglect to speak for the unborn or the elderly, when we avoid getting involved in their survival, we join the rich man’s callous carousing. But when we embrace them with our voices and our service, we take our place beside Abraham in heaven’s festivities.

October 6 – Pentecost XVII (Proper 22C) – Jesus warns against equating worth with girth (Luke 17:6). Mistaking more for better brings catastrophic consequences. Better a millstone around one’s own neck (Luke 17:2) than causing a little one (literally, of microscopic size) to stumble (literally, caught in a trap and brought to destruction). Raising a child in the truth and love, forgiveness and faith of Christ Jesus surpasses (2 Timothy 1:5-6) gaining even a lifetime of wealth to give them (Psalm 62:9-10).

October 13 – Pentecost XVIII (Proper 23C) – Naomi fears becoming burdensome to her family. She even insists her daughters-in-law let her go (Ruth 1:8-9). But Ruth refuses to abandon the aging widow for autonomy (Ruth 1:16-18). And they both get to witness God again bringing treasure from tragedy, as the gifts of community more than make up for surrendering independence. Will we receive less, if He Who gave King David for their grandson sent us His Son for a Savior?

October 20 – Pentecost XIX (Proper 24C) – We get to declare and demonstrate the Word of the Lord even in adversity (2 Timothy 4:2-3). Proclaim the truth of God no matter what political controversies it intersects. Perform the love of Jesus no matter what personal choices it interferes with. Speak and show how He creates, redeems, and calls every human life, especially the least of these. Face discrimination with courage and compassion. Meet ridicule with joy and hope. God guarantees justice (Luke 18:7-8).

October 27 – Pentecost XX (Proper 25C) – The Lord swore to defend and avenge Cain though he had killed (Genesis 4:15). Our Almighty Maker wraps His tender mercy (Luke 18:13-14) even around those who have taken life. The Lamb of God also sacrificed His life and shed His blood to release from sin anyone who has participated in abortion or advocated assisted suicide. Only this same repentance and forgiveness will save even For Life voices who find ourselves superior to them.

November 3 – All Saints’ Day – Blessed are the pretty? Blessed are the popular and productive? Blessed are the self-sufficient? No! Blessed rather are the poor, the meek, those who cannot feed (Matthew 5:6) or defend themselves (Matthew 5:7, 9), for they exhibit just how much God gives and does for humankind. If He calls sinners His children (1 John 3:1) and makes saints of such as us (Revelation 7:9-10), how can mere age, appearance, or inability disqualify anyone else?

November 10 – Pentecost XXII (Proper 27C) – “[H]e is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20:38). Creation and nature, incarnation and resurrection, conception and heaven everlasting are not only His works, they are His will and His way. He has revealed and given Himself to humankind that every genetic member of our race may have life, abundant and eternal, even amid suffering (Exodus 3:7-8) and destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Take heart and stand firm!

November 17 – Pentecost XXIII (Proper 28C) – Surprise pregnancies can feel worse than the world ending. Terminal diagnoses can seem like the universe working against you. They also bring opportunity to bear witness to God’s love for humankind (Luke 21:13). The Son of Man has entered in, even in just such humble circumstances. While society crouches in fear and anger (Luke 21:25-26), we may stand up straight, lift heads and hands (Luke 21:28), and receive each life as a gift!

November 24 – Last Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 29C) – How precious indeed does God hold every human life! Just what makes even the least of these so special, from the embryo to the elderly? The Heavenly Father creates each one (Colossians 1:16) at the moment of fertilization. The Son of God wrapped His holy life in human flesh within Mary’s womb (Colossians 1:19-20). And the Holy Spirit calls even the youngest among us into His everlasting Kingdom and family (Colossians 1:13-14)!

December 1 – Advent I – Some call “sexual liberation” and “individual autonomy” progress. But abortion and assisted suicide show how serving flesh and self enslaves only to death. “[S]alvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11b). Jesus draws and drives us toward a better hope: forgiveness, resurrection, everlasting life, Kingdom of heaven. Real progress means trusting the Word of the Lord and receiving even the least of these as precious neighbors.

December 8 – Advent II – “[W]elcome one another as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans 15:7). Does the Almighty Maker view you as an inconvenience? Does the Heavenly Father call you parasite or persistent vegetative? Has He not indeed exalted and honored you above any other creature by making Himself your Servant and Savior (Romans 15:8-10)? And shall we not likewise embrace embryos and aged neighbors in the same grace?

December 15 – Advent III – “Put not your trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3a). Neither ought we allow politicians, researchers, or even physicians to decide the purpose, worth, and duration of a human life. They cannot even spare themselves from sin and death, any more than we can. Human survival and salvation belong in the hands of Him who makes and favors each one (Psalm 146:5-7). And we rejoice whenever He enlists the experts—and the rest of us—as His agents!

December 22 – Advent IV – The Gospel has adopting at its heart. Joseph took Mary’s baby for his own (Matthew 1:24), and man adopts the God who had adopted His created beings as His children. We rejoice both to own this grace and to enact it unto others. It energizes us to receive every child as gift instead of as a right. And God extends this opportunity to any Christian home, not just those experiencing infertility!

December 29 – Christmas I – “God sent forth His Son, born of woman … to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus became just like each of us—zygote, embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, kid, teenager, and grown-up. In doing so, He demonstrated how precious He would have us see ourselves and every other member of our race in all ages, appearances, and abilities. Let us celebrate our Lord’s gestation as much a part of His blessed incarnation as His birth!