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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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.

April 7 – Lent V – “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” (Psalm 126:5). Choosing life isn’t always easy. Enduring illnesses, giving birth, caring for children, and speaking truth in love often involve suffering. However, our good Lord forms all people—and their circumstances—for Himself. And life received from Him brings celebrations that eclipse all sorrows. Whoever trusts Christ’s grace will also take hold of His glory (Philippians 3:8-11).

April 14 – Palm Sunday – Our Almighty Maker reserves the right and responsibility for decisions about life and death (Deuteronomy 32:39). Jesus has earned this authority by swallowing up death in His crucifixion. And He has proven Himself trustworthy in life-and-death matters by bringing forth joy even from sorrow in His resurrection. What a great relief! The times and terms of human lives and deaths rest securely in His loving and saving hand.

April 21 – Resurrection of Our Lord – A surprise pregnancy or an incurable condition can leave us feeling like we have to make friends with death just to keep from suffering alone. But God goes with us as our Savior and Father even into death’s domain (Psalm 16:10). And He never escorts us there without also carrying us through it (Psalm 16:11). We don’t have to surrender a single breath, because every Good Friday finds its Easter Sunday in Jesus!

April 28 – Easter II – “Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord[!]” (Psalm 148:12-13). Every life—however little, however weak, however seemingly miserable—has been brought forth by our good God for joyful purpose. He takes hold of even the most hopeless-looking situations (Revelation 1:18) to show—and share—His abundant, everlasting life (John 20:27). Behold it, believe it, and receive it!

May 5 – Easter III – Even the one whose faculties are declining and whose dying appears undignified shines in the light of God’s love and power (John 21:18-19). Jesus who rose, reigns, and is returning smuggles blessings in every burden. His gracious guidance speedily and mightily conducts dances out of dirges (Psalm 30:11). And He extends this compassion to every human being without exception (Revelation 5:9)!

May 12 – Easter IV/Mother’s Day – Among motherhood’s greatest works is comforting distraught little ones. Where the world would wipe out lives by murder, the Lamb once slain but raised again mothers us by wiping away our tears (Revelation 7:17). Heavenly Father’s forgiveness and salvation heal even the guilt of abortion, the grief of terminal diagnosis, and the fear of complicated pregnancy. The Hand that rules the world also rocks the cradle.

May 19 – Easter V – “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 11:9). The same grace that sanctifies our consciences also safeguards the lives of the least of these. By creating them with His own fingers (Psalm 139:13), redeeming them with His own blood (2 Corinthians 5:19), and calling them with His own Spirit and Word (Matthew 28:19), the Lord our God has declared every member of our race, including embryos and elderly ones, not only clean but precious.

May 26 – Easter VI – Speaking and acting as Gospel-motivated voices for life sometimes meets with frustration and discouragement. Nevertheless, what we call our failures God calls His patience. The sanctity of life is not our project but His holy truth and will. The courageous and compassionate proclamation of it cannot fail to bring forth fruit, however small or slow (Acts 16:13-15). Take heart—He who has overcome the world abides in this cause (John 16:33).

June 2 – Easter VII – Abortion advocates sometimes claim the Scriptures are silent about the practice. However, the Greek term for the “sorcerers” condemned in Revelation 22:15 also refers to those who prepared abortifacients. On the other hand, every story entrusted to the Lord of Life ends beautifully (Revelation 22:1-5)—even if it involves a surprise pregnancy or a terminal diagnosis.

June 9 – Pentecost – The world promises that abortions, embryo experiments, and physician-assisted suicides will achieve peace. But wherever death establishes an empire, it excuses nobody and enslaves all to grief. The life-giving Spirit that Jesus bestows in His Gospel instead produces the real peace of being unconditionally loved by and infinitely precious to the Ruler of the Universe (John 16:27). And this peace is for all persons and all circumstances (Acts 2:17-21).

June 16 – Holy Trinity/Father’s Day – The best fathers guide their children to find their voice instead of stifling it. Even the youngest among us—unborn ones, too!—have a sacred privilege and vocation to take part in testifying of the goodness of our Maker and Savior (Psalm 8:2). Their Gospel-motivated voices may speak without grown-up words, but they strengthen us as evidence of how precious we are to our Heavenly Father even though we are helpless.

June 23 – Pentecost II (Proper 7C) – God became an embryo to declare embryos precious. He experienced gestation to hallow the womb as His canvas. He received parents to especially bless procreation and childrearing. He suffered to sanctify all of our afflictions, including the untreatable ones. Jesus came to claim even the tiniest of our species and make His family out of the neediest human beings (Galatians 4:4-7). We get to call God “Father” and become brothers and sisters to any human being!

June 30 – Pentecost III (Proper 8C) – Elijah prayed for assisted suicide (1 Kings 19:4). Instead God heard the burdens of his heart. He didn’t abandon Elijah to death but instead assured Him of His presence in suffering and His power perfected in weakness. Elijah’s Almighty Father surrounded him with a caring community to be dependent upon (1 Kings 19:15-18). Isn’t this the freedom (Galatians 5:1, 13, 22-24) He offers all humankind—especially Christians?