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.
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).
April 5 – Palm Sunday – Not the form of a superhero. Not a sultan or celebrity. Not pretty, popular, or prosperous. God showed Himself to the world in the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7). He gave Himself as peasant, dependent, and embryo to begin with. He selected humble, gentle, fragile, mortal. This makes human life of every age, appearance, and ability precious—elderly, unborn, and the least of these too!
April 12 – Resurrection of Our Lord – Jesus’ bodily resurrection (Matthew 28:9) reveals as much about us as it does about God. What great majesty and honor the Almighty Maker hides (Colossians 3:3) in human flesh! And if He places such worth in a body broken by crucifixion, if He works such purpose in the rotting confines of a tomb, how much more can—will He!—do so in surprise pregnancy and in terminal diagnosis!
April 19 – Easter II – Conditions like cancer and dementia pose significant struggle. Pregnancies affected by poverty, disability, or sexual assault involve real difficulties. Abortion or physician-assisted suicide may seem like resolutions. Yet intentionally ending innocent life opposes God and will fail (Acts 5:38-39) to secure any ultimate peace or comfort. Instead trust, wait, and rejoice (1 Peter 1:5-6): God’s gifts and His works—even amid suffering—no one and nothing can overthrow.
April 26 – Easter III – Forgiveness, salvation, everlasting life: the promise is for you and your children (Acts 2:38-39). However these children come to exist; however long they are with us; however little, invisible, incapable, the Lord of Life makes no distinction about durations or locations. He who calls you also calls all the children His own precious treasure from fertilization to forever.
May 3 – Easter IV – Abortion views a little one’s weakness as reason to exclude her. Assisted suicide sees a patient’s need as an occasion for discarding him. The first Christians welcomed their weak and needy as opportunities for community (Acts 2:44-45). They learned from Jesus that a neighbor who lacked meant an invitation to lean in and share life. Are we too far gone to engage in the same with the least of these?
May 10 – Easter V & Mother’s Day – “Like newborn infants,”—gestating embryos, even—says 1 Peter 2:2. Aren’t we all? Helpless, dependent, rendered powerless by sin, but for the Savior’s grace. Yet protected, provided for, and precious (1 Peter 2:4)! Every member of our race embraced and cradled by a Heavenly Father Who loves even more than Mama. If motherhood manifests His compassion, how much more the babies dwelling in their bellies!
May 17 – Easter VI – What best prepares us to defend the sanctity of life? Political strategy? Graphic imagery? Rhetorical formulas? Scientific citations? How about the hope we have in Christ our Holy One (1 Peter 3:15)—that our Lord is at work in every circumstance, even those life-and-death moments that seem most dark and desperate, bringing about not just survival but everlasting salvation, and always with His signature gentleness?
May 24 – Easter VII – “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God,” who “settles the solitary in a home” (Psalm 68:5-6). He has not left us orphaned in our sins but has taken each of us for His own family. So we need not limit our enthusiasm for adoption only to addressing infertility. We can open not just our mouths but our hands, hearts, and homes, because children need them, and we have in abundance.
May 31 – Pentecost – “Remember not the sins of my youth” (Psalm 25:7a). Many post-abortive women and men have made the Psalmist’s prayer their own without us ever knowing. We don’t have to keep God’s Word to ourselves just because they do. Let us instead rejoice with them that the Heavenly Father remembers them in His steadfast love and forgiveness, even those who have engaged in violence against life.
June 7 – Holy Trinity – God declares humankind embodies His own image (Genesis 1:27). He doesn’t extend this privilege to the great beasts, the mountaintops, galaxies, or the angels themselves, but even the tiniest offspring of Adam and Eve—every “male and female”—has the honor. How magnificent it is when our witness to it as adults matches that of “babies and infants” (Psalm 8:2)!
June 14 – Pentecost II (Proper 6A) – The Lord finds human life worth saving even if it belongs to one who is weak (Romans 5:6) or evil (Romans 5:8). If He will have such as us for His “treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5) despite our profound impairments of heart, how can we decline to behold and safeguard the preciousness of another just because of some simply physical shortcoming?
June 21 – Pentecost III (Proper 7A) & Father’s Day – Our nation goes to great lengths to protect her endangered landscapes and animals. Yet abortions deliver our children to death, and assisted suicides execute our elders (Matthew 10:21). Jesus categorizes these acts as persecutions against the Gospel. The comfort and courage we need come from knowing (childlike) and showing (father-like) how human lives from womb to tomb “are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
June 28 – Pentecost IV (Proper 8A) – Jesus says, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34b). Advocating the sanctity of life may mean living on that edge. Of course, Gospel grace and forgiveness aren’t for slaying adversaries but setting captives free. It sometimes feels like merely fetching refreshments (Matthew 10:42), but the reward of Gospel-motivated voices For Life is receiving even the least of these neighbors as treasures.