Welcome to Living Savior Lutheran Church
Living Savior church is now having regular worship services at 9:00a.m. every Sunday. We will be practicing social distancing. Masks are required. Communion will be given at the end of the service. Offering plates will not be passed, but will be located at the entrance and at the exit. For those of you who are not comfortable with this arrangement, we also are offering a parking lot service at the same time. tune in to 105.7. We are now sharing the service on facebook live also.
Scriptures & Message for Second Sunday after Epiphany, January 24th, 2021
Reading – Deuteronomy 29:I4-20
I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God but also with those who are not here today. You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison, when such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “l will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. The LORD will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the LORD will blot out their names from under heaven.
Reading – John 16:19-21
Jesus saw that they wanted to ask Him about this, so He said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘ln a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a little while you will see Me’?
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
Sermon Text – Psalm 139:13-24
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand- when I awake, I am still with You. lf only You, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of You with evil intent; Your adversaries misuse Your name. Do I not hate those who hate You, LORD, and abhor those who are in rebellion against You? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
God’s Gift Of Life
For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
Fathers in earlier generations usually weren’t allowed to do this, but some have had the splendid privilege of watching and helping as their children were born.
The first time, the experience was new and overwhelming. They felt they had witnessed God’s hands at work in the world and when their baby was safely delivered, there was left groping for inadequate words to describe what I had seen. The word “awesome” came to mind, it truly is an “awesome wonder” to see “all the worlds God’s hands have made. How great Thou art!”.
A Father’s story– That first birth left us impressed with the pricelessness and preciousness of life. The birth of our second child was different: for three weeks, we literally didn’t know if he would live from one day to the next. I baptized him in his hospital crib; my wife and I took turns keeping a vigil by his bedside.
Finally, their prayers were answered and our baby survived, but that second birth left us impressed with the fragility of life. The journey from the womb to the world is just a few centimeters in distance, but it is the most difficult and dangerous journey any of us ever make in life. There is a thin line between life and death. We know the miracle of birth is incredibly precious, we sometimes forget it is also incredibly fragile.
Of course, anyone who witnesses a birth must also be awed by the mother’s role! I remembered the words God said to Eve and to every mother since, “In pain you shall bring forth your children, yet your desire shall be for your husband” (Genesis 3:16). That’s certainly how it is in the delivery room and “labor” is the only word to describe what the mother goes through. I don’t believe anyone works harder – man or woman – in this world over a concentrated period of time than a mother when she gives birth to a baby.
God, too, gave birth. God gave birth to a world, a good and beautiful world, and it pains God to see what we are doing with His world. The rich oppress the poor. There are wars and rumors of war – and fears of peace! The world is flooded by tears of grief when we should be basking in the sunshine of joy. So in Isaiah, God looks at all this and says:
For a long time I have held My peace; I have kept still and restrained Myself; Now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant. (Isaiah 42:14)
And Jesus also understands. As He tells His disciples about His death, Jesus talks about birth: “When a woman is in labor she has sorrow, because her hour has come. But when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born” (John 16:21).
In other words, Jesus is saying that His hour to die has come and the disciples are in pain about it. But soon they will forget their anguish, for by His death, a new world will be born. The old world which pains God like a woman in labor will pass away and a new world will come. As the apostle Paul would write later in his letter to the Romans: “it’s as if the whole universe is groaning in labor together, waiting for its new birth in Jesus Christ” (8:22).
“God’s gift of life.” This is the core of everything the Bible says about human life: human life is precious … not because of anything we have done, but because life is a gift from God. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like or what station you are born into in this world – you are sacred. Your life has dignity and worth because it is a gift from God.
This Biblical truth is full of meaning and full of controversy. Pick up any newspaper these days and you will see what I mean. I remember one particularly gripping story in Wisconsin not too long ago, where a girl and her boyfriend delivered a baby in the back of their truck; then they suffocated the child.
You have to feel pity for these two young people. They felt they couldn’t go to their parents for help. They panicked when the baby was born. What they did was murder. You see, it doesn’t matter whether the victim is sixty years old or six minutes old. All life is sacred because life is a gift from God. This is basic to the whole Christian ethic: “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).
As gut-wrenching as that true story is, it may be even more horrifying to consider this: if they had killed their baby just weeks earlier with an abortion, it would have been legal. Think about that for a minute. Those two young people went to jail because they waited too long to kill their baby.
Neither scientists nor Supreme Courts, nor women nor church officials nor anyone else can decide when human life begins. God alone decides! The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), and it gives a reason: because God made man and woman in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). God declares that He knows us and consecrates us even before He forms us in our mother’s womb (e.g. Jeremiah 1:5). And the wisdom of Ecclesiastes reminds us of our need for moral humility when approaching such mysteries as the origin of human life: “As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the world of God who makes everything” (11:5).
This Old Testament message that life in the womb is human and belongs to God is reaffirmed in the gospels with the birth of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of God in our midst. The good news of Mary’s pregnancy causes an already human though unborn John the Baptist to leap for joy in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:41). As for Jesus, He didn’t become Jesus only in the third trimester of Mary’s pregnancy! Jesus became Jesus and His mission of salvation began when Mary was told: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
God says over and over again in the Bible in many different ways, “See, I have set before you life and death … therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Not only the Bible, but human biology also suggests we are human from the start. For example, our unique, individual genetic code is in place immediately after conception. Three weeks after conception, the entire foundation of our nervous system is in place and our heart is beating.
Deep down, Most people know the fetus (which is a Latin word, meaning “young one”) is not just a “potential human,” but is instead, a human with potential. The unborn baby is a potential child just as a teenager is a potential adult — they are merely at different stages of the developmental process God has given us for our growth as human beings. It is said that a woman has the right to control her own body. The problem is that a pregnant woman has someone else’s body growing within her own. This is especially obvious when she is carrying a male fetus – male and female are clearly not of the same body.
From beginning to end, life is a gift from God and because it is, life is sacred. You cannot disrespect the gift of life without disrespecting the Giver of Life, who is God Almighty.
The birth of a child is more than a time for joy; it is also a time for sober questioning. Do we give our children the love and attention their sacred lives deserve? Do we give all people the love they deserve – born and unborn?
“Respect for life” is more than a slogan. It is an ethic for all of life, from the womb to the tomb.
Who are we but witnesses in awesome wonder to all the worlds God’s hands have made? Amen
Almighty God, whose hands have made all the worlds in awesome wonder, we thank You for blessing us and keeping us all the days of our lives: from our conception, to that difficult and dangerous journey into life, to that final, unknown journey into death. And when Your saints lay down from all their labors to rest, we thank You for the promise of everlasting life, purchased for us at great price by our crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
Gracious and Everlasting God, who calls light out of darkness on the face of the deep and who brings forth life from the depths of the earth to the mother’s womb, we pray today that we will soon respect Your priceless, precious gift of life:
We pray for all the children of the world, born and unborn, that they may all receive the inheritance of life and love which is their birthright;
We pray for all who are poor and hungry, that they may yet receive the respect and fullness of life which belongs to all who are made in Your image;
We pray for the generations to come, that they may be given a world which is still bountiful and beautiful.
Make all of us see Your wondrous hand in the life which is within us and around us. Make us no more able to disrespect that life than we can disrespect You, who is the Beginning and End of everything that was, and is, and is yet to be. In Jesus’ name we pray, for the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen
we will try to keep you updated as we go along during this time of Covid 19.