Sermon for Sanctity of Life Sunday – 1.22.23
+ Life Sunday – January 22nd, 2023 +
Series A: Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-25
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church
“Light and Life in Christ”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we join Lutheran Churches across the country as we observe Sanctity of Life Sunday.
A day where we give thanks to God for the gift and blessing of life from conception to death; a day where we remember that God’s gift of life is precious, valued by our Lord, and worthy of protection and care at every stage of life. And yet it is also a day where we lament the hatred of God’s gift of life we witness around us in this country and across the world; a day where we mourn the wickedness of fallen humanity which sanctions, and even celebrates, murder.
In the face of darkness, however, we celebrate life. God’s gift of human life. God’s gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. So today is also a day where we remember that because Jesus died and rose in the flesh, God’s gift of life does not end with death; but death ends with Christ’s death and his glorious resurrection. Life goes on in the resurrection on the Last Day. The body we lay in the tomb will rise again when our Lord returns. You. Your life. You are precious to our Lord Jesus.
We know this because when God came down to earth he did not come as a duck or a fir tree; the Lord of Life joined us in our human life, and was made man. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Life in her womb. Life in her arms. Life himself who grew, as Luke says, in wisdom and stature with God and man. He did all of this for you. To give his life for your life.
It is because he loves you and desired to save you that God became a blastocyst, a zygote, an embryo. God became man to save you. This is what the prophet Isaiah foretold.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
In the Scriptures, light is life…and darkness is death. And we live in a land of deep darkness. The kind of darkness that says human life is nothing more than meat in motion, a random, evolved collection of cells and brain waves, and not a carefully crafted design of a loving God who forms us and knits us together in our mother’s wombs.
The kind of darkness that calls an unborn human life in the womb a fetus, not because it’s a medical term, but because it’s easier to dehumanize a fetus than it is to admit the truth, the willful death of a an unborn child is wrong.
The kind of darkness that considers human life something which we give or take whenever someone is seen as having a low quality of life, being an inconvenience, or suffer from illness and disability, rather than confessing that human life itself is precious in the sight of God who created man in his own image.
Yes, we live in a land of darkness. But the deep darkness of sin and death lives in each of us as well.
The kind of darkness that fails to keep the fifth commandment, as we confess in the catechism…that we should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. The kind of darkness that considers some sins – even sins against God’s gift of life – to be unforgiveable. The kind of darkness that causes us despair when we see our own guilt and shame over ways that we have lived our life.
For this reason, God sent his prophet Isaiah. For this reason God sent his Son Jesus. To give you life in Him: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
In Scripture, darkness is death, but light is life. And Christ is the light and life of the world who gave his life to save you.
And that is why our biblical, Christian view of life begins and ends with Christ. We learn to value life from the moment of fertilization, for example, because the Son of God, who was God and is God, took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), and was in-fleshed in the womb of Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as a real life human when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
We learn from Christ to value the human body, for His was fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together (Psalm 139:14) by the Father, and at His baptism was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was, in fact, the temple of God, and therefore, worthy to be honored and treated as holy by His followers even after His death and burial. So, also, are the bodies of all human beings created in the image of God, for they, too, are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Father, as He knits them together in their mothers’ wombs. And more than that, the bodies of the baptized, by having the Holy Spirit indwell them, are also temples of God to be treated as holy in the sight of God and not just shells to be disregarded or discarded.
We learn from Christ’s atonement accomplished by His death on the cross that God the Father Almighty loves, human life. He loves all of humanity and desires for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), which is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).
Rich or poor, young or old, male or female, a child in the womb or a great grandpa whose body has grown weak, we learn a biblical, Christian view of life from Jesus Christ Himself, who, as God and man fulfilled and carried out the words of Psalm 41:1-2, one of the theme passage for this year’s Life Sunday. “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him.”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. The light and life of Jesus crucified for you shines into the darkness of this fallen world. When the dark night of guilt and shame descends upon us, the light and life of Jesus’ death and resurrection is yours.
When those dark moments of life intrude upon us – when we or our loved ones have been given a terminal diagnosis, who are stricken with poverty, who have suffered the death of a spouse, who are enduring mental disability, or who have endured the hostility of others – Christ who is the Light of the world is with you.
In the face of darkness, we celebrate and give thanks for the light and life of Christ our Savior. We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. For you, the Lord declares, Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We who have walked in darkness have seen a great light. For you, our Lord says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.