|Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||August 27, 2017||Proper 16, Year A 2017||Isaiah 51:1-6, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20|
|Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||August 13, 2017||Proper 14, Year A, 2017||I Kings 19:9-18, Psalm 85:8-13, Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33|
|Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||July 9, 2017||Proper 9, 2017 Year A||Zechariah 9:9-12; Matthew 11:25-30|
|Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||July 2, 2017||Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 8||Romans 6:12-23; Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18|
|Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||June 18, 2017||Second Sunday after Pentecost||Exodus 9:2-8a; Romans 5:1-8, Matthew 9:35-10:23|
|Trinity Sunday, First Sunday after Pentecost , Year A||June 11, 2017||Trinity Sunday, Year A||Genesis 1:1-2, 2:4a; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20|
|Day of Pentecost, Year A||June 4, 2017||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 7:37-39|
|Easter 7, Year A||May 28, 2017||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A||John 17:1-11; 1 Peter 4;12-14; 5:6-11; Acts 1:6-14|
|Easter 6, Year A||May 21, 2017||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31, John 14:15-21|
|Easter 5, Year A||May 14, 2017||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 23, 2017||Easter 2, Year A||Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 16, 2017||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, Year A||April 14, 2017||Good Friday, Year A||John 18:11, 9:28-30|
|Maundy Thursday, Year A||April 13, 2017||Maundy Thursday, Year A||John 13:1-7, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 9, 2017||Palm Sunday, Year A||Matthew 26:36-46|
Christ the King Sunday, Year C
Sermon Date:November 20, 2016
Scripture: Jeremiah 23:1-6. Ps 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43
Liturgy Calendar: Christ the King Sunday, Year C
God’s peace is the great theme that runs through today’s scripture passages.
The psalmist says that
“It is God who makes war to cease in all the world;
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, and burns the shields with fire.”
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah points out that Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety when God raises up from the house of David a king who will execute justice and righteousness in the land.
Jesus Christ, and no other, is the fulfillment of that prophecy.
The writer of Colossians says that in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and that through Jesus, God was pleased to reconcile to God’s self all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
In the gospel according to Luke, Jesus, being crucified between two criminals, says, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Being able to forgive means letting go of the anger, resentment and the desire to take revenge against someone who has hurt you. Anger, resentment and thoughts of retaliation are like strong acids that eat away your insides if you continue to fill yourself with them.
If anyone had a right to be full of anger, Jesus was that person.
Imagine spending your life healing the sick, feeding the hungry, casting out demons, and telling people about God’s love, and calling people back to God’s way instead of the way of the world, only to be put to death on a cross. Anger and hatred for those who were responsible for his suffering and death would have been a natural and very human response on the part of Jesus.
But Jesus forgave those who condemned him to death, caught up in the systems they didn’t fully understand. Jesus forgave those who physically crucified him by nailing him to the cross and raising him up on that cross between two criminals to die a slow and awful death.
And in doing so, Jesus opened up to all of creation the way back into paradise.
Paradise is that state of being in which we are right with God and with one another, and with creation. All accounts have been settled. Nothing is left to prove, or resolve, or to correct. It is finished, we are free, and we are at peace with God and with each other and with the natural world.
The criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus who asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into his kingdom was asking for reconciliation with God.
“Remember me. Make me right with God so that I can too can come into your kingdom.”
This criminal saw the truth about Jesus—that this lowly man on the cross was truly the King of the Jews, as the inscription on the cross read, and that Jesus was the king of even a criminal like him.
This criminal saw that Jesus was the king not only of the earth, whose people put him to death, but that Jesus was also the king of heaven, where all at last is eternally reconciled to God. This criminal saw that even in the midst of hatred and violence, Jesus was the King of Peace who could open the way into paradise.
Studying the shape of the cross is helpful here.
The vertical bar of the wooden cross that held Jesus was rooted in the earth and reached to heaven.
Do you remember that story in Genesis when Jacob is running away from home?
He has cheated his brother Esau out of their father’s blessing, and Esau is angry. So Jacob is running away.
And he has this dream in which a ladder stretches from earth to heaven and angels are going up and down on this ladder.
The vertical bar of the cross is like that ladder reaching to heaven. God, through the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, opens the way from the sinfulness, chaos and disconnection of our earthly lives into the peace and unity of heaven. God is saying “I forgive you for all the awful things you do to one another and to my creation as human beings. I am asking you to love me as I love you so that we can be reconciled to one another.”
Reconciliation is a two way street. God opens the way onto this street by coming to live and die as one of us. But then we have to decide to leave our sinful ways behind and, like those angels on Jacob’s ladder, start the journey up the ladder to heaven, or to turn onto the road of reconciliation that God has opened to us. Reconciliation with God is impossible without acceptance and a response on our part.
The other part of the cross is this horizontal bar of the cross.
“Jesus stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross so that all might come within reach of his saving embrace.” But Jesus simply stretching out his arms of love in embrace is only the beginning.
For the crucifixion and death and resurrection of Jesus to lead us into reconciliation with our fellow human beings, we have to respond. Our response to God includes our treatment of one another–to treat one another and all of creation with forgiveness and compassion by “reaching forth our hands in love,” even toward those who have sinned against us.
The forgiveness that Jesus offered from the center of the cross makes our reconciliation with God possible.
And forgiveness at the center of the cross makes our reconciliation with one another possible.
The writer of Colossians said that in Jesus all things hold together.
When we find our marriages, our families, our communities, our nation and our world in danger of spinning apart,
That’s when we need to remember that God has already reconciled us to God by making peace with us through the crucifixion and death of Jesus on his cross.
It’s time to remember that Jesus has already opened for us the way to paradise.
And our job, as Christians in this world, is to be people of forgiveness and to be peacemakers on this earth, to work alongside God for justice and righteousness, and to seek reconciliation with one another, including our enemies, because Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, is our one and only King. Amen.