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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September 2 – Pentecost XV (Proper 17B) – Life issues can present great temptations. The complications of surprise pregnancies pressure folks into adding to God’s Word. Infertility and terminal illnesses steer many toward subtracting from the Lord’s commands (Deuteronomy 4:2). Still, He who takes ownership of the inner life by His forgiveness also takes responsibility for the body’s survival by His resurrection. His presence and promises arm and guard against every threat (Ephesians 6:11). Good Shepherd and Guardian, give security to us and through us in Your words. Amen.

September 9 – Pentecost XVI (Proper 18B) – Abortions, assisted suicides, and embryo-destroying experiments all discriminate. These actions assign value according to age, appearance, ability, environment, or history. The Gospel of Jesus Christ eagerly dispenses with such partiality (James 2:1, 5). The Word of His grace proclaims life to those in need and then performs it with and for them (James 2:17-18). How may we echo and imitate this miracle in our neighborhoods? Humble Lord Jesus, teach us poverty of pride that we may obtain riches in relationships. Amen.

September 16 – Pentecost XVII (Proper 19B) – Ancient societies often avoided demon-possessed persons (Mark 9:17-18, 22). “It’s your problem, not my business. Don’t bother me, deal with it yourself.” The modern mantra, “Your body, your choice,” tells the same lie. When we keep silent and still on life issues, we only confirm this devilish deception. Christians get to speak with Christ’s courage and reach out in God’s compassion: “You matter. We’ll help” (Isaiah 50:4). O Lord, loose our tongues to declare Your mighty deeds. Amen.

September 23 – Pentecost XVIII (Proper 20B) – Everyone who loves the Lord God also loves His little ones (Mark 9:37). Every child is a treasure. Every person, especially the vulnerable, is our neighbor. Every life, even the feeblest, is gift and privilege from above. Life-or-death situations allow opportunity for us to receive them—see them, be seen with them, meet their needs. The Gospel of Jesus Christ means life with a Father and His family. Father in heaven, assist us to receive Your little ones. Amen.

September 30 – Pentecost XIX (Proper 21B) – “I can’t carry this alone” (Numbers 11:14). Moses echoes the emotions of sudden pregnancy, chronic conditions, and advocating for life among communities that ignore. “You’re not alone,” says the Lord (Numbers 11:16, Mark 9:40, James 5:14). “Lean on my people.” Jesus Christ goes with you. The communion of saints shares your joys and sorrows. Sometimes speaking up for life starts with approaching the lonely. Lord of the Church, cause our fellowship to show Your love. Amen.

October 7 – Pentecost XX (Proper 22B) – Marriage and sexuality and procreation belong together: “the two shall become one flesh” (Mark 10:8a). God did not make us male and female for gratifying our own desires. He designed us to embody and delight in communion like He does. Dividing one gift from the others results in death. Receiving and respecting them as His sacred blessings can overcome the failings we bring into them. Almighty Maker, cultivate in us a love that reflects Your own. Amen. 

October 14 – Pentecost XXI (Proper 23B) – God’s favor teaches us to number our days as gifts from Him (Psalm 90:12). He lovingly fixes the times and manners of our living and dying. This wisdom relieves us of worry about “quality of life” or “death with dignity.” Jesus Christ’s resurrection means we need neither cut deals with death nor run in fear from it. When afflictions and evils befall our bodies, we may still rest and rejoice in His glorious power. Lord God, let anxious hearts dwell secure in You throughout all generations. Amen.

October 21 – Pentecost XXII (Proper 24B) – Our rights can’t acquire heaven. Our choices won’t achieve any salvation for us. “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). If our Savior’s words can gather us into the everlasting kingdom, how will His ways not also resolve and redeem all our hopeless circumstances, like terminal diagnoses or surprise pregnancies? Heavenly Father, give us faith that seeks life wherever You have sown it. Amen.

October 28 – St. Simon & St. Jude – If our life-affirming message meets with opposition, that doesn’t mean we’ve gotten it wrong. It ought not frighten us into silence but rather encourage us to persist. The fallen world and sinful flesh persecuted the prophets (Jeremiah 26:7-11), the apostles, the reformers, and even Jesus. He Himself has privileged us to minister His own truth and love (John 15:19). Humankind beholds in us the One they cannot overcome, Him who overhauls them! Compassionate Master, strengthen and sustain us in Your Gospel labor. Amen.

November 4 – Pentecost XXIV (Proper 26B) – We get to love God not only in spirit but in the person of our neighbors (Mark 12:33). The same blood that makes Him our brother and us His children (Hebrews 9:12) also makes those around us into treasures and privileges. In protecting and providing for the least of these—uncertain parents, unresponsive patients, unborn embryos—the Kingdom Himself will never be far from us. Incarnate God, draw us into Your humility that our race be raised up. Amen.

November 11 – Pentecost XXV (Proper 27B) – “Put not your trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3a). Neither stake yourself upon congresses or courts or physicians or popular opinions. None of these delays even their own death and only hastens the demise of others. Turn away from their life-shortening ways and take refuge instead in the God who made the universe. He who formed your body watches over the hopeless. He lifts up the lowly and saves life still. Lord Jesus, deliver into abundant and everlasting life all who cry out in desperation. Amen.

November 18 – Pentecost XXVI (Proper 28B) – Fathers consign their children to abortions (Mark 13:12). Children encourage their parents toward physician-assisted suicide. The latter days have come upon us. Let us hearten each other with the promise of resurrection, even for terminal illnesses, and with the assurance of forgiveness, even for violence against life (Hebrews 10:12). Let us confidently confess this hope in the face of crisis and panic, for the Holy Spirit Himself speaks new and eternal life in us (Mark 13:11)! Heavenly Defender, loose our tongues to declare Your purposes. Amen.

November 25 – Last Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 29B) – Incurable conditions can feel like the floods lifting their roar (Psalm 93:3). Complicated pregnancies can thunder. We get to remind sufferers how our Lord reigns over them, and He reigns in them. His blood frees us from our sins (Revelation 1:5). If even our guilt cannot hold back His angels from gathering His elect (Mark 13:27), then neither can any age, appearance, or ability limitations stand in the way. Faithful God, let nothing in us obstruct any eye from beholding Your glory. Amen.

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.