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.
Life Thoughts in the Church Year – Three-Year Lectionary:
November 5 – Pentecost XXIII (Proper 26A) – The Lord our God has given us sexuality for relationship, family, and community. These matters cannot become merely private choices or personal preferences. What we do with our bodies also affects our neighbors (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6). Abortion reveals that lust always leads to destruction. Marriage and parenting prove we do not need abortion – indeed, these gifts leave us no room for it!
November 12 – Pentecost XXIV (Proper 27A) – Like the parable’s bridegroom, Jesus often meets us in unexpected moments (Matthew 25:10). He even sometimes hides in surprise pregnancies or terminal diagnoses in order to rescue and bless. So, we dare not ignore the poor and needy neighbors who cry out for deliverance (Psalm 70:1, 5) from abortion and assisted suicide. If we do indeed love the Lord’s salvation, then let us say so (Psalm 70:4)!
November 19 – Pentecost XXV (Proper 28A) – Many around us despair because the world pressures them into the violence and fraud (Zephaniah 1:9) of viewing death as a solution to difficulty. In the sanctity of every human life, we have riches to spare (Matthew 25:15). Gospel hope and joy are not just for us to possess. Jesus brings us faith and life to proclaim and put into practice.
November 26 – Pentecost XXIV (Proper 29A) – Guilt and grief can devastate those who abort their own children (Matthew 25:37-38). The Lord God longs to relieve their wounds with His forgiveness (Ezekiel 34:16). If Jesus overcomes death for us, He can also subdue it for them (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). May our mouths make the joyful noise (Psalm 95:2) of explicitly applying His atoning grace to every sin!
December 3 – Advent I – Surprise pregnancy intimidates, and terminal diagnosis terrifies because they darken the future. But Jesus the Savior looks through walls and sees around corners (Mark 11:2-3). He has promised abundant and everlasting life as the one who both secures the ends and supplies the means. God is faithful and will sustain (1 Corinthians 1:9); can we confirm it with our testimony (1 Corinthians 1:6)?
December 10 – Advent II – John the Baptist prophesied the Gospel of the Kingdom that with Jesus’ blessing is always coming (Mark 1:7-8). Even during surprise pregnancy or terminal diagnosis, He is not slow to keep His promises. Instead, He acts patiently, not wishing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Aren’t we crying out about it as this generation’s voice in the wilderness (Mark 1:3)?
December 17 – Advent III – Those who believe cannot help but speak. God’s love for every human life has filled our mouths with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:2). We have His permission to give voice to this Gospel in all circumstances and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). Our time has come to bear witness to the Light (John 1:6-7). Confess and do not deny (John 1:20) the sanctity of life!
December 24 – Advent IV/Christmas Eve – Almighty God has profound interest and investment in childbearing and childrearing (2 Samuel 7:12; Luke 1:31). He has made this relationship and vocation central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every mother and father, every son or daughter embodies the love of the Lord for humankind. While abortion attempts to conceal the realities, our sanctity-of-life advocacy gets to reveal this delightful mystery (Romans 16:25).
December 31 – Christmas I/New Year’s Eve – Christmas – and a new year – offers opportunity for the joys of looking forward. Simeon and Anna exemplify and inspire faith that finds strength and celebration in anticipating. The Heavenly Father who escorted us thus far will also usher us ever onward. Neighbors facing surprise pregnancies or suffering terminal diagnoses need to know. For their sake, please do not keep silent (Psalm 62:1)!
January 7 – Epiphany I/Baptism of Our Lord – Nothing and nobody comes into existence apart from the will and the Word of the Lord God Almighty (Genesis 1:3). This means God desires the survival of every human life from fertilization to forever. We court great danger if we go against this intent or counsel others to do so (Psalm 29:7-8). Instead let us receive neighbors as blessings and enjoy our Father’s favor (Mark 1:11)!
January 14 – Epiphany II – Life issues like surprise pregnancy and terminal diagnosis come with uncertainty. But the Lord our God knows both our worries (Psalm 139:4) and the best way forward. He has already seen (John 1:48) what it will take to save, and He has still chosen life for all humankind, even when we behold only darkness and despair. We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow.
January 21 – Epiphany III – The size of a people (as in the case of Nineveh, Jonah 3:3-4) makes no difference to their worth. Nor does the height of an individual’s status (so says the Psalmist, Psalm 62:9) affect his or her sanctity. The life-giving grace of God measures according to His abundance rather than our scarcities of age, appearance, or ability. May we likewise direct gazes beyond abortion’s and assisted suicide’s shortsightedness (1 Corinthians 7:30-31).
January 28 – Epiphany IV – Gospel-motivated voices have the privilege – and the responsibility – to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Those who speak otherwise dabble in judgment and condemnation (Deuteronomy 18:20). The Scriptures and the Savior have graciously made clear – with “shalls” and “shall-nots” – His jealous devotion to the survival and salvation of every human life. We get to repeat and rejoice in it, especially for the sake of the weaker ones (1 Corinthians 8:12).
February 4 – Epiphany V – Our Almighty Maker has blessed us with bodies for enjoyment. He has entrusted them to our control (1 Corinthians 9:26-27), but this means more than the mere “my body, my choice” indulgence of appetites. The greater gratification comes from receiving and serving even the least neighbor (1 Corinthians 9:22). Who are we to lie silent about the sanctity of life and thereby withhold the divine invitation to such a delightful discipline?
February 11 – Transfiguration of Our Lord – We proclaim not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5) of body and sexuality. We proclaim not personal choice, but Jesus Christ as Lord of marriage and procreation. We proclaim not popular opinion, but Jesus Christ as Lord of hurts and healing. We proclaim not political debate, but Jesus Christ as Lord of life and death. Listen to Him who makes us beloved children of God (Mark 9:7).
February 18 – Lent I – The Lord God forbid father Abraham from sacrificing his boy Isaac (Genesis 22:12). The lesson extends to us, too. Abortion is immoral because it is unnecessary. Jesus alone serves as beast of burden in the solemn rite of righting wrongs (Mark 1:13). Death always hatches from sin (James 1:15), but we belong in the business of redemption. If God’s forgiveness forgets even abortion (Psalm 25:7), we ought to forget about it also.
February 25 – Lent II – Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia view aging and affliction as burdens. But Abraham became a blessing in his elderliness (Genesis 17:1-2). And we encounter the glory of the Lord in carrying one another’s crosses (Mark 8:34, 38). So let us resist Satan’s temptations to take death into our own hands (Mark 8:33). We will rejoice in our suffering (Romans 5:3) and receive neighbors as gifts even in theirs (Psalm 22:24).
March 3 – Lent III – The Lord God closely associates life and family. He stands commands about parenting and marriage on either side of the prohibition against killing (Exodus 20:12-14). He holds human life as highest priority and will not accept any other creatures as replacement (John 2:15-16). Body and sexuality serve to enrich life – our own as well as one another’s – and not to eliminate it.
March 10 – Lent IV – Surprise pregnancy and terminal diagnosis come with risks and costs. But as with the ancient Israelite serpent infestation, the real enemy is neither one’s neighbor nor the Maker (Numbers 21:8). Only impaling the snake (not terminating each other) brought deliverance, and the antidote called for faith instead of death. Christians insist God has sent us His Son for extending lives and not ending them (John 3:17).
March 17 – Lent V – Jesus Christ embodies the God who abides beside us in our ailments and frailties. Our incarnate and crucified Savior suffers with and for those who cannot sustain or save themselves. He regards even human beings beset by weakness or sickness high enough to take on our condition Himself (Hebrews 5:7-9). The Gospel just leaves no room for abortion or assisted suicide.
March 24 – Palm Sunday/Passion of Our Lord – Sinful nature prizes popularity, property, and power. It despises dependence and discards aging or gestating neighbors because of it. But Jesus proves that God has designed humankind to rely on Him and each other. His salvation comes about by humbly and happily entrusting oneself to an Almighty Father (Philippians 2:6-8). We need not take life and death into our own hands when we can rest upon His.
March 31 – Resurrection of Our Lord – The Scriptures do not limit the sanctity of human life to a few isolated passages. Almighty God has made survival and salvation, abundant and everlasting, the point of the whole story. He intends His resurrection to encompass and affect every member of our race and every moment of our existence, from fertilization to forever. This is nothing less than the Gospel of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)!