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.
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.
July 5 – Pentecost V (Proper 9A) – Generations of citizens before us have sacrificed to secure a safe, free, and fair land for us. And Christians of ages past also loved us enough to guard and deliver the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What great works of the Lord shall we gratefully commend to our descendants (Psalm 145:4)? We can’t do any better than declaring and demonstrating how God creates, redeems, and calls every human life as His own precious treasure forever!
July 12 – Pentecost VI (Proper 10A) – The Word of the Lord never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11). And He has clearly proclaimed His lavish love for human lives of all ages, appearances, and abilities, the way that a farmer extravagantly scatters seeds anywhere the soil shows (Matthew 13:3). So, we may speak the sanctity of life with courage and show it with compassion. The Heavenly Father remains responsible for its results, whether reception or rejection.
July 19 – Pentecost VII (Proper 11A) – Surprise pregnancies often come with many burdens. Terminal diagnoses may mean intense suffering. But our Lord and Savior promises these circumstances also bring returns that far exceed the costs (Romans 8:18). He draws near and dwells with us in all our afflictions (Romans 8:26) and cultivates a life that’s greater than physical comforts – like resurrection smuggled under cover of crucifixion and a harvest of wheat safely hidden to blossom behind weeds (Matthew 13:30).
July 26 – Pentecost VIII (Proper 12A) – Measuring a field’s dimensions cannot diminish the value of a treasure buried there (Matthew 13:44). So however pretty, popular, or productive, however controversial the politics and however personal the choices, do the rest of us amount to any more than embryos or incapacitated hospital patients when compared to the Almighty Maker of heavens and earth? The Lord God actually has a preference for small (Deuteronomy 7:7). The less we have, the more He gets to give. And since He will have us, He wants every member of our race.
August 2 – Pentecost IX (Proper 13A) – “I can’t afford this baby.” None of us can. Only He Who sends the mouths sends their meat. And He has shown both ability and willingness to conjure it out of thin air when necessary (Matthew 14:20). If He doesn’t use our profound poverties as excuse for executions, how can we allow it for anyone else? Christians have better ideas than abortion. Fund food pantries. Staff pregnancy help centers. We take it seriously when Jesus says, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16).
August 9 – Pentecost X (Proper 14A) – The Lord of Life intimately and meticulously attends to His creation (Job 38:4-18). He even gently but relentlessly looks after the inanimate objects. But did His devotion to mountains and oceans drive Him to order our world from within and not just from outside (Matthew 14:32)? No. He has put on the universe He put together so that He may love and save and have humankind. And He has not spared the smallest detail. So why would we exclude any, whatever their size, skills, or circumstances?
August 16 – Pentecost XI (Proper 15A) – Jesus didn’t really see the Canaanite woman as less than human (Matthew 15:21-28). He compared her to a dog but also called all the Israelites sheep. Many Jews did treat Gentiles like animals, though. No doubt they took close note when He included her and her little girl among the children of God. It’s like someone today saying fetuses count as human beings or elderly lives matter as much as the rest of us.
August 23 – Pentecost XII (Proper 16A) – Christians do not hide behind personal choice. We rejoice in community rather than autonomy (Romans 12:4-5). Our Heavenly Father has given us the privilege of receiving the unborn and the aged as neighbors. Our Lord and Savior gives us the responsibility of serving as brothers and sisters to those experiencing surprise pregnancies and terminal diagnoses. Instead of “my body, my choice,” we get to delight in “my body, my gift!” (Romans 12:1).
August 30 – Pentecost XIII (Proper 17A) – One Gospel-motivated voice For Life said, “No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a new car. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.” Poverty and pain, disability and disease, abuse and abandonment take away a lot. But incarnate, crucified, and risen-again Lord Jesus guarantees suffering cannot take everything. Even amid afflictions we overcome these evils not with death but with His joy and hope, courage and compassion (Romans 12:21).
September 6 – Pentecost XIV (Proper 18A) – This world needs watchmen (Ezekiel 33:7). Our brothers and sisters need keepers (Matthew 18:15). Almighty God has set us here for such a time as this. He doesn’t promise we’ll find speaking truth in love easy. But He does assure us it changes hearts and saves lives. We don’t warn against abortion and assisted suicide to show our own superiority. We tell of these sins to show every human life their dear Savior and to share with them in His kingdom forever.
September 13 – Pentecost XV (Proper 19A) – Today the good Lord has a good Word for those of us who have participated in abortion. He forgives that. He forgives you. “[A]s far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). What’s more, He redeems every sinner. He redeems all our failures. “[Y]ou meant evil … but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Who could you counsel or comfort with what you’ve learned from this mistake (Romans 14:7)?
September 20 – Pentecost XVI (Proper 20A) – The Apostle St. Paul must have felt like a burden and better off dead (Philippians 1:21). Persecution caused him almost constant pain. Imprisoned in Rome, perhaps awaiting execution, he only ate, bathed, and was clothed at someone else’s pleasure. Yet though he couldn’t work, God made him a witness who blessed untold multitudes throughout history (Philippians 1:24). And what great worth and purpose likewise shines in our lives even when confined to hospital beds or completely incapacitated!
September 27 – Pentecost XVII (Proper 21A) – The Lord God Almighty never views death as a solution or even a necessary evil. “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God” (Ezekiel 18:32). This certainly includes—and plainly prohibits—abortions and physician-assisted suicides. What alternative do we have in the face of surprise pregnancies and terminal diagnoses? “Count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3b)—the way God Himself regards you.