Reign of Christ Sunday
November 24, 2013
Three crosses, three requests, one promise
They nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified-one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” . . . “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah.” . . . One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself!” . . . But the other criminal . . . said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (selected from Luke 23:33-43 New Living Translation)
The setting observed this Sabbath day is a weighty one as we look back toward Jesus’ final recorded moments on this earth. The players involved represented all strata of society and then some. Some were there willingly, some not. Even so, all passed through this concluding act of clarity about God’s ultimate inbreaking kingdom for the world he created.
On one side of this incident is continuous ridicule framed by the distracted, and the sarcastic heart directed toward the center (Prove it!).
On the other, is the unending hope of the human spirit manifested by words of optimism and confidence lifting ever upward (Remember me!).
In the center, connecting these two divergent but necessary counterparts, are the outstretched arms of the Son pleading one last request (Forgive them!).
The requests themselves are a poignant reminder of the contrast between the already and not-yet kingdom of God that Jesus hinted about. Similarly Jesus spoke about his kingdom being “not from this world,” reminding us of the source and origin of his reign; it is with and from God!
Nonetheless Christ the King Sunday, which immediately precedes the first Sunday in Advent, like the Moravian Advent star of old that has its tips painted red, prompts us to remember that as we look toward Christmas there is always a little Easter and the assurance that we too can be with him in paradise!
Christopher C. Thore, pastor, New Beginnings Moravian Church, Huntersville, North Carolina