Sunday, November 21, 2010
King of Love
The people stood by, watching Jesus on the cross; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:35-43
Today we celebrate Christ the King. The last Sunday in the long season of Pentecost. When I was a child I was transfixed by the idea of kings and knights, prices and princesses, a world of castles, armor and long brocade gowns. Life was elegant and noble in my imagination, but really, it was harsh and cruel as ever, and kings ruled with iron fists and bloodshed. My childhood dreaming was just that, dreams without the full fleshed reality of life. And now, as the world turns with excitement as an heir apparent to the English throne announces his engagement, we all get sucked into former fantasies, and forget the harsh living realities, which include a boy raised without a mother.
Jesus, in wrenching pain upon the cross, asks God to forgive the ignorant crowd around him and promises paradise to the worst of the miserable offenders. His reign is about love and forgiveness, restoration and humility, vulnerability and healing. It is not a rule of judgment and power. It is God's reign- the only rule is love.
Today, I want to live knowing that the overwhelming evidence of the world's cruelty and harshness is not God's story, and it is not the whole truth. God's son, even while hanging from a crude cross and bleeding life out, offered redemption and love for the asking. May I remember today to ask - and to offer.
"The King of love my shepherd is, his goodness faileth never, I nothing lack if I am his and he is mine forever." St. Columba's Tune