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.
November 29 – Advent I – Restore us, O God (Psalm 80:7)! Restore us by Your humble coming among us. Restore our courage to speak for those vulnerable to using death as a solution. Restore our compassion to serve their survival and salvation as You have ours. Restore our congregations to welcome, receive, and embrace every human life. Restore our communities to accompany instead of abandoning. And restore our country to protect and provide for unborn and elderly.
December 6 – Advent II – No greater comfort speaks to hearts broken by abortion than the Gospel of God’s forgiveness (Isaiah 40:1-2). He holds the lives of those who permit, promote, or participate in abortion just as precious as the little lives lost to it (1 Peter 3:9). And whatever relief abortion proposes for surprise pregnancy cannot compare with the Savior who will “gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
December 13 – Advent III – Few situations force us to acknowledge One greater than ourselves (John 1:27) like surprise pregnancies and terminal diagnoses do. But when we see how He comes as gentle gestating baby and humble suffering servant, and not only binds up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1) but keeps body and soul (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24), even these burdens give way to greater blessings.
December 20 – Advent IV – Anyone who experiences surprise pregnancy understands Mary’s “greatly troubled” (Luke 1:29). But since every conception comes about only by God’s good and gracious will, we can rest assured that especially in such circumstances, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28) and “You have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Who needs “my body, my choice” when we can declare, “Let it be to my according to Your Word” (Luke 1:38)?
December 27 – St. John, Apostle and Evangelist – St. John testifies of a Savior whose atoning sacrifice saves from all our sins and shortcomings (1 John 2:2). His shed blood (Revelation 1:5) has rendered that of abortion and physician assisted suicide as unnecessary as it is ineffective and immoral. These measures have no power to deliver, and even their power to condemn fails—if we confess our sins, even sins against the sanctity of life, Jesus faithfully forgives and cleanses (1 John 1:9).
January 3 – Christmas II – Adoption’s not an afterthought for our Almighty God. It delights Him to bring every human life into His family this way (Ephesians 1:5). He even arranged for a human husband to adopt His only-begotten Son (Luke 2:48). This relationship captures the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His grace has taught us how no child ever goes entirely unwanted. The same heavenly joy awaits all those who open their homes to little ones in need.
January 10 – Epiphany I/Baptism of Our Lord – Even in a formless, dark, and empty early universe, God made Himself present and powerful (Genesis 1:2). Surprise pregnancies sometimes seem just so uncertain. Terminal diagnoses can feel that desperate. But this Lord buried Himself in our graveyard (Romans 6:4). This Savior sowed life in death’s shadowy valleys. We need not let abortion or assisted suicide root us there as residents. The Heavenly Father always comes close and brings His own new creation to blossom.
January 17 – Epiphany II – “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Can anything good come from surprise pregnancy? Can anything good come from chronic illness? Jesus is both promise and proof of the wonders that come from just such contexts. Miracles come from Nazareth. Forgiveness comes from Calvary. Almighty God put them there. And He also created, redeemed, and called both worth and purpose into every human body (1 Corinthians 6:19), no matter what size, skills, or circumstances.
January 24 – Epiphany III – Love doesn’t just “live and let live.” God has put love and power together (Psalm 62:11-12). Love won’t settle for “personal choice” or “public opinion” or “political controversy.” Remaining silent about sins like abortion and assisted suicide may avoid one kind of offense. But it perpetrates a greater one by refraining from showing love. Real compassion acts with courage. It means words of warning as much as words of winning over.
January 31 – Epiphany IV – Anxieties concerning climate change and overpopulation justify abortion for some folks. But for Christians, people matter more than food (1 Corinthians 8:13). And fears about famine turn out unfounded when the God who sends mouths also sends meat (Psalm 111:5). If a picture is worth a thousand words, isn’t a brother or sister worth more than a million hamburgers?
February 7 – Epiphany V – “The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). Didn’t Jesus atone for the sins of abortion and assisted suicide? Doesn’t the Heavenly Father love those who promote or participate in them just as much as the lives they have taken? For their sake, let us not hesitate to directly apply both the diagnosis of sinfulness and the medicine of forgiveness in our congregations and our conversations.
February 14 – Transfiguration of Our Lord/St. Valentine’s Day – “God shines forth out of Zion” (Psalm 50:2), not from outer space or some other dimension. He adorns human faces with His own glory. It isn’t angels, superheroes, or celebrities only that He makes so sacred, but sinners like Moses (Exodus 34:29-30) and peasants like Jesus (Mark 9:2-3). The Almighty Father holds every human life open, no matter how embryonic or elderly, as a window to heaven. Who are we to pull the shades?
February 21 – Lent I – “Do not lay your hand on the boy … the Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:12-14). Don’t mothers and fathers experiencing surprise pregnancies have the need—and the right—to hear this plea from God Himself? And what a privilege we have to repeat the holy prohibition and promise! Jesus Christ has stepped into every sinner’s place (Mark 1:9, 13), and no other death is necessary or sufficient. His alone will atone for all of our shortcomings.
February 28 – Lent II – What “rejoicing” (Romans 5:3) can we do when abuse, abandonment, and poverty complicate pregnancy? What “hope” (Romans 5:4) can we have when terminal illness takes a loved one’s faculties, functions, and future? Just this: Through Jesus, God takes up our crosses (Mark 8:34) that we may live under His—and live immediately, abundantly, and eternally (Mark 8:35).
March 7 – Lent III – Abortion occupies an entire business industry. Assisted suicide is driven by financial considerations. And Jesus objects to nothing more strongly than making life and death a matter of commerce (John 2:15-16). He sacrificed Himself instead (John 2:19) so that “you shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Why? Because Almighty God chose the lowly for His own (1 Corinthians 1:28-30)—unborn, aged, impaired, even you and me.
March 14 – Lent IV – Location, origin, and residency can neither improve a person’s worth nor impair it. The Lord God’s worldwide redemption in Jesus (John 3:16) gathers from east and the west, north and the south (Psalm 107:2-3). How then can the confines of a woman’s womb or the bars of a hospital bed or the walls of a laboratory hold Him back when His great love has redeemed the human lives there as well?
March 21 – Lent V – Servanthood supersedes success, says Jesus (Mark 10:42-45). And do not surprise pregnancies and terminal diagnoses provide irreplaceable opportunities to serve neighbors, whether loved ones or strangers? Our Savior suggests that coming alongside them in courage and compassion may be better than sitting in prominent places hereafter!
March 28 – Palm Sunday/Passion of Our Lord – God works salvation in meekness (Zechariah 9:9). He brings glory only in weakness (Philippians 2:5-8). Abortion and assisted suicide attempt to avoid what the world perceives as weaknesses. But if we never enter another’s weakness or acknowledge and endure our own, we cannot know or come near to heaven. Better the peace of weakness with Jesus than any strength bought by such bloodshed (Zechariah 9:10).