Contributed by Lindean Barnett Christenson, Bozeman, MT
Friday, November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For much of this month there have been special editions of news magazines on the stands, special segments on the nightly radio and television news, and hours of TV specials replaying highlights from Kennedy’s life, footage from his presidency, and endless talk of conspiracy theories regarding his death. Remembering JFK and his death is evidently important in the US on this 50th anniversary.
At the same time, the news is full of images and stories coming from the Philippines after super-typhoon Haiyan. The storm system killed hundreds, if not thousands, most of whose names we in the US will never know. Millions have been affected in some way, and the relief and rebuilding efforts will undoubtedly take years – and continue even after the next disaster or tragedy takes over the airwaves. For many people around the world, the devastation of the typhoon will be “old news,” and largely forgotten, sooner than later.
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The request from one of the criminals crucified alongside Jesus sounds so different from all the other words hurled at Jesus on his way to death on the cross.
The religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, and even the other criminal being executed by crucifixion all mocked Jesus and scoffed at him. IF you are the Messiah, then SAVE yourself, they said, assuming that of course if Jesus had the power to save himself, he would. But Jesus is a Messiah who saves others only by not saving himself, demonstrating what sort of king he really is.
Somehow, the second criminal saw the truth of what was happening: that he had been rightly condemned for his guilt, but Jesus was innocent. He didn’t demand to be rescued from his fate. He asked to be remembered, not to be forgotten, perhaps perceiving that Jesus would enter his glory not by coming down from the cross but by dying on it. And Jesus promised him a place in paradise.
In baptism we, too, are promised life with God, now and forever – because Jesus died and was raised again. Jesus will remember you, too.
Christ our King, in love you chose to save others by not saving yourself. Remind us again that your kingdom is coming, and that it is among us. Remind us that in your kingdom the lowly are lifted up, the lost are found, and the last are first. Help us remember you and the life to which you call us. In your holy name we pray, Amen