Sermons 2007
What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Pentecost Last 2007 Luke 25:35-43

This Sunday and this Sunday’s gospel mark for us a liminal experience. Liminal experience, threshold experience, marking the transition -- in this case radical shift – to a new situation. A new situation so different from what came before this year that it is unsettling. It is particularly unsettling in view of the fact that Food Lion not only seems to have decided to ignore Thanksgiving but also Advent. When I was in the shopping center the week before Thanksgiving I could hardly believe my eyes. Stacks of Christmas trees just outside the entry doors to our local Food Lion. And then came the ads in the Richmond Times dispatch for the early Christmas sales the early Friday morning – as early as 5AM – the day after Thanksgiving. And the Burgess Christmas extravaganza display has been in preparation for several weeks.

And the Gospel lesson itself. A week before Jesus had warned his disciples that world shaking events were about to occur. But they hadn’t really understood what he meant. Suddenly we were left somewhere in the no man’s land between Galilee and Judea and now without warning we are standing on Golgotha at the foot of the Cross with all the other people watching Jesus bleeding and dying on the Cross. A cruel death for him, hanging there between two common criminals.

What happened to the Triumphal entry? Where were the crowds who hailed him as the Messiah as he entered the gates of Jerusalem. The crowd that strewed the road in front of him with palm branches, even spread the road with their cloaks and cheered, where were they now. The ones who praised God joyfully for Jesus as they loudly proclaimed:
"Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!" (Lk 19:35-38)

If that were kingship, it was a brief reign indeed. The only apparent sign of Christ the King on that barren horrible hillside was the sign that Pontius Pilate had ordered nailed above his head: “This is the king of the Jews.” And we call this beaten, tortured, crucified, vilified, dying man Christ the King? And we read this dark heart rending gospel passage just as we begin to think about Christmas and all its attendant joys and parties and gift shopping?

But that’s why it is liminal, threshold. The arrangement of the lectionary this way hurls us unwillingly into the quiet, pensive, reflective Advent season. The shadow of the cross lies over us for the next month; we cannot escape, however much merrymaking we intend throughout December. The first Sunday of Advent we are once again on the way to Jesus’ crucifixion in Jerusalem and he speaks to his disciples like last Sunday in terms of doomsday apocalypticism, of the end times. And then fiery eyed John the Baptist appears out of the desert, hurling judgement right and left. John the Baptist, in prison the next Sunday and soon to have his head chopped off at the whim of a young woman.

No wonder Advent Lessons and Carols have become so popular and traditional. And then the Bishop comes one Advent Sunday. And then there is the Christmas Cantata, soon to be traditional since we will have done it twice. But we can’t forget the shadow of the Cross in Advent before we return to the glorious Christmas stories on 23, 24, and 25 December.

So what kind of King is this Jesus? Well, there was a sign of it in his dealing with the two thieves on their own crosses. The one who defended Jesus, the one who asked forgiveness, to be remembered when Jesus came into his kingdom, that one was absolved and saved. And as well, we know because we know the rest of the story. We know it doesn’t end there on the Cross.

And finally there is this note: A wise person once observed of this gospel text, that on Calvary there were two thieves crucified with Jesus. One thief was saved so that no one need despair, but only one, so that no man might presume. (1)


1. Alexander Maclaren, cited in eSermons Illustrations for 25 November 2007