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)

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

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!

January 5 – Christmas II – “And the child [Jesus] grew” (Luke 2:40, 52). The familiar hymn illustrates this Gospel: “Tears and smiles like us He knew; and He feels for all our sadness, and He shares in all our gladness.” Our God did not descend only for an event or an activity. He has inhabited human life and its condition. Jesus touches every age and stage of our existence and development, from fertilization to final breath, with almighty compassion.

January 12 – Baptism of Our Lord – “[A] bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3a). He who went into the water with sinners (Matthew 3:6, 13) doesn’t let human impairments impede His redeeming. A body broken by deformity He will not discard in abortion, and a person incapacitated by disease He will not abandon in physician-assisted suicide.

January 19 – Epiphany II – Did God really say, “Called me from the womb” (Isaiah 49:1)? Did God really say, “A light for the nations” (Isaiah 49:6) – all ages, appearances, and abilities? He is a God Who speaks, and His every Word gives human lives worth and purpose. Has He not also made our mouths like sharp swords (Isaiah 49:2), proclaiming the glad news of the Lamb whose sacrifice delivers (Psalm 40:9) from any surrender to death?

January 26 – St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor – Serving as Gospel-motivated voices for the sanctity of life can leave us feeling like lambs in the midst of wolves (Luke 10:3). Yet One who has supported us since before our birth (Psalm 71:6) accompanies us all the way to old age (Psalm 71:18). He populates His flocks with endangered little ones, and He, Himself, dispatches His people to safeguard the least of these (Acts 20:28, 35).

February 2 – Epiphany IV – God has chosen weak and lowly so that no human being need boast (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). This is the power of Christ and His cross, that God gave His Firstborn for our transgressions so we don’t have to (Micah 6:7). And since He has made children and saints of such as us, may no one prevent Him from performing as mightily for our unborn neighbors or elderly ones, and may nothing hinder us from advocating and celebrating it!

February 9 – Epiphany V – Our Lord glories in hearing humankind’s cries of distress (Isaiah 58:8-9). His salvation prepares us not to hide ourselves from our own flesh (Isaiah 58:7), particularly our gestating children and aging relatives. We need not take refuge in using death as a solution, because Jesus does the hiding for us (1 Corinthians 2:7) – hiding life’s preciousness even behind surprise pregnancies and terminal diagnoses.

February 16 – Epiphany VI – For two generations, forty years, Lutherans For Life has been declaring and demonstrating the sanctity of human life. Is our courage and compassion making any difference, with abortion ongoing and assisted suicide expanding?     “[N]either he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7). He retains responsibility for all outcomes; our privilege is participating in His miraculous activity!

February 23 – Transfiguration of Our Lord – Many advocates of death-as-a-solution traffic in “cleverly devised myths” (2 Peter 1:16). Claims about “bodily autonomy,” “reproductive health care,” “medically necessary,” “safer than childbirth,” and “coat hangers” only obscure the beautiful truth. Gospel-motivated voices may lay the lies to rest with the Word “fully confirmed” (2 Peter 1:19) in eyewitness testimony: in the body and life of Jesus, God gives glory and sanctity to every member of our race.

March 1 – Lent I – Abortion and assisted suicide promise control. But they don’t seize power from death. Instead, they simply submit to death’s reign (Romans 5:14), accepting defeat and calling it a treaty. These practices and ideologies constitute sinfulness. We need not surrender, for Jesus embodies a new model of humankind. His forgiving grace works in us a faith that gives freedom to receive life and celebrate it even amid difficulty and suffering (Romans 5:17).

March 8 – Lent II – We scarcely need more help than when “coming in” (approaching birth) or “going out” (approaching death). In these times of weakness, neither hills nor pills nor legislative bills will avail unless they come from our Lord. Since Almighty Maker keeps our coming in and going out (Psalm 121:7-8) as a gracious Savior, He gets to direct the decisions about how one lives and when one dies.

March 15 – Lent III – Jesus graciously offers the water of abundant and everlasting life to an adulterous woman (John 4:14-18). He has just as much compassion for those who have participated in violences against life. Let us point out how these famines starve hearts so that we may proclaim Him who showers forgiveness and deliverance. If He draws water from rocks (Exodus 17:6), how much more life will He pour forth from our lips!

March 22 – Lent IV – “[T]hat the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Wondrous honor He has given to our every affliction, even the fiercest ones. The Jesus Who has borne our sicknesses and carried our sorrows incarnates our pains unto salvation. Why consider assisted suicide when our discomforts afford us front-row seats to witness the movements of the Almighty – and the privilege of participating firsthand?

March 29 – Lent V – Life issues like surprise pregnancy and terminal diagnosis cast long shadows. Sometimes our mortal eyes only behold despair and death in such circumstances. But our Lord Jesus loves nothing more than lost causes (Ezekiel 37:5-6). He walks hope into the darkest valley, and where our resolve ends, His resurrection begins. Trusting His presence and promise and power takes hold of a life not even crisis or cancer can touch (John 11:25).