Last Pentecost, November 24, 2019

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Title:Last Pentecost, November 24, 2019

 Last Pentecost, Year C, Nov. 24, 2019 (full size gallery)

An eventful week:

1. Nov. 19, ECW Tea

2. Nov. 20, Village Harvest 5th anniversary

3. Nov. 22, Spanish Bible Study

One of the most beautiful days on the river with plenty of sunshine and moderating temperatures. The light was magnificent inside the church.

Nov 24 Last Pentecost began the movement to Advent with the unveiling of the Christmas Tree (St. Peter’s Christmas Tree Family) which was adorn with cards to purchase gifts to be distributed by social service. Here is the Christmas Schedule

Ed and Doris Hooker from Atlanta paid a visit as they usually do around this time of year. In fact in 2016, they helped support the Altarpiece renovation.

The Episcopal Church Men (ECM) will deliver Thanksgiving to 10 families this week (7 are single).

We are concluding the collection of plastic this week to be redeemed for a bench if we collect 500 pounds from TREX Corp. Catherine thanked Eunice for the collection and organizing it to be turned in .

UTO collection ends next Sunday, Dec. 1

Giving Tuesday is Dec. 3. This week had the largest number of clients visit the Harvest in a year and a helf (150). It costs as much as $190 a month for the ministry so donations are appreciated by mail or by St. Peter’s Paypal link

The sermon used Luke’s Gospel which is a reference back to Easter Friday when Jesus is on the cross. It could be subtitled “Listen and remember.”

“Last week’s Washington Post carried Emily Langer’s obituary of Branko Lustig, the producer of Steven Spielberg’s movie, Schindler’s List.

“Langer writes that “Branko Lustig was just a boy, newly arrived at Auschwitz, when he witnessed a scene that would be seared into his memory. Seven prisoners at the Nazi death camp were to be hanged in a public execution, and the boy found himself in the front row before the gallows.”

“Moments before they were hanged, before the bench was kicked out from beneath them, they all said as one: ‘Remember how we died. Tell the story about us.’”

“In today’s gospel we find ourselves on the front row at another death, before three crosses. Jesus hangs between two criminals, both of whom are saying their last words.

One says to Jesus, “Save yourself and us. Are you not the Messiah?”

The other criminal asks not to be saved, but to be remembered.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

“This request on the part of the criminal is one of the most poignant requests in the entire Bible because it touches all of us in our most vulnerable, deepest longing…

Today’s readings honor the kingship of Jesus. Jeremiah the prophet announces the coming of a righteous and wise king. To the Thessalonians, Paul asserts that God has brought us into the kingdom of Christ, who is our Redeemer and Reconciler. Jesus, the crucified King, grants Paradise to a penitent criminal.

Jeremiah 23:1-6

After giving oracles against three earlier kings of Judah (22:11, 18, 24), Jeremiah gives the Lord’s judgment on all the “shepherds,” the leaders of Judah.

God will raise up for them a king who will fulfill all the promises of the covenant with David. The “Branch” (v. 5) later became a technical term for the expected Messiah. Jeremiah makes a play on Zedekiah’s name (which means “the Lord is righteous”); instead of the unjust Zedekiah, one will come who will accomplish the Lord’s righteousness.

Luke 1:68-79 (Canticle 16)

This poetic song of praise (often called the Benedictus, the Latin for its opening word “Blessed”) by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, praises the mighty works of God and anticipates John’s later career as prophet and forerunner of Jesus, the Messiah. This song serves both to interpret the action of God now working actively in history to fulfill the divine promises and to situate John the Baptist in the flow of God’s salvation plan.

Psalm 46

A hymn of Zion, which probably was used in the great autumnal festival of Tabernacles, Psalm 46 celebrates Yahweh’s lordship over creation and recounts God’s saving deeds for the people. The theme is the reality of God’s presence with the people whether in the midst of primeval chaos or of historical turmoil. Zion is described in terms drawn from the Garden of Paradise rather than its own geography. The congregation is called to witness God’s power and acknowledge God’s glory.

Colossians 1:11-20

This letter addressed tendencies among the Colossian Christians to merge differing beliefs. They had apparently adopted additional pagan teaching and practices in order to supplement Christianity and thereby ensure salvation. The letter asserts the sufficiency of Christ and of redemption through him.

Paul proclaims that it is God who has “rescued us from the power of darkness” (v. 13), and that it is in God’s Son that we have “redemption” (or release) through baptism (v. 14). Verses 15-20 are a liturgical hymn presenting Christ as preexistent and preeminent, the image of God.

Christ is the absolute fullness of God. In Greek thought, the “fullness of deity” (2:9) was believed to be distributed among intermediary powers whom human beings had to appease before making contact with God. Paul asserts that all supernatural powers are subordinate to Christ, who alone possesses fully the divine nature.

Luke 23:33-43

The story of the two thieves is found only in Luke. It exemplifies Luke’s portrait of Jesus as the Son of Man, full of compassion, love, patience and forgiveness in death as in life. Like the epitaphs on some contemporary gravestones, the thief requests “Remember me,” that is, at the resurrection of the dead. But he receives more than he asks for.

For Luke, the kingdom of God is present in Jesus and manifested in his death and resurrection. Today, not in some vague future, he will be with Christ–not just accompanying him but sharing with him in his royalty in Paradise. This is the promise for those who acknowledge Jesus’ kingship and share his passion and death.

Perhaps to fully appreciate this dynamic of forgiveness, we must consider the part of ourselves that is thief. While we may not have criminal records, we have often robbed other people: of their time or tolerance, of the courtesy and attention they deserve from us, of our commitment to their well-being. St. Basil takes this idea a step further when he describes the extra coat hanging in the closet as stolen from the shoulders of the poor, the surplus food in our cupboards as taken from the plates of the hungry.

If even the most faithful among us can admit to a nasty vein of thievery within, we can claim a sorry kinship with the two hanging beside Jesus. Which one, then, do we emulate? The first thief heckles him. He joins with the leaders who should have silenced the ugly jeers, but instead encourage them. Blinded by pain, the first thief asks for earthly liberation, quick relief. But he is short-sighted.

The second begins by acknowledging his guilt and the raw justice that punishes his misdeeds. He then shows his deepest, best instincts when he asks not for an end to his pressing pain, but for reconciliation with God. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” expresses a trust, confidence and far-sightedness that few of Jesus’ closest friends seem to have had. The thief looks beyond the matted hair, the bloodied thorns and the tortured body to glimpse the King. In one who looks as miserable as he does himself, he sees the hope of salvation.

Jesus’ response proves immediately that the thief is right. Who but the King of heaven could so readily offer entrance there? This King then is not some bombastic tyrant who lords it over people, but an innocent one who frees us with his own blood.

The thief must have died with Jesus’ words ringing in his ears. Many people hold deep in their hearts some comforting phrase, some words of a beloved person that help soothe the worst anxieties and spread balm on the fiercest pain. To that inner store of treasure, we might all add the promise to the thief, extended to ourselves: “You will be with me in Paradise.”