Death and kings

Luke 23:33-43

Today is Christ the King and in this year we have a very different scripture from other years. This year we are led directly to the cross, and not at the foot of it, no right in the air. We get to listen in on all the mocking, the shame that goes on in making their accusations confirmed right. Fear has led them here. Fear leads them to speak out and fear can keep us from seeing deep truth revealed to us. We are visiting death.

Now our cukture is not comfortable with death. Being brought to the cross to see the very end is not one of the places we choose to sit in often. At convention this weekend we heard stories from the Canon Liz Easton from Nebraska about the dying and rising church. We got to visit a place that was dying with her. Its a hard place to be. We face our own fears about death, we face our own fears about how it should be handled,  and we try to pretty it up. Now talking this way for a whole convention may seem pretty depressing, but it wasn't.  Sometimes we face death of old things in order to change and become new.

Look at the cross today. Jesus and two thieves, one who mocks because he has given up hope. Another who listens, who accepts the wrong he has done in life and admits it. This one, says Jesus, will be with him in paradise, today. See we have a choice sometimes when we face death.  We can see the reality of its coming and embrace what was or we look to resurrect a past. The one thief does this by saying I am guilty and you are guilty so we die, save yourself. The other says all the wrong he has done and lets it go, he is innocent. One of the continuing themes was how the church would like to ressurect the past, the 1950. The memories from there are of vibrancy, fullness, life. Yet this is not where we can get back too. It is past. We are instead encouraged to look forward. Maybe its in losing the image of himself as bad and deserving death where the thief is then promised paradise. Something to hold on to and look forward to. He lets go of all this earthly realm that would hold him down.

Look at it in this way. Think of this church, Holy Cross, we lament the loss of people. We lament we can't attract more. We hope for a past which isn't likely to come back. There is much to hope for if we let go of the past. We have neighbors and friends who realized a need for our food pantry and for months now have been working with us to restore food to our shelves. In the midst of all this gift we have become inspired. We have made a list to give out 40 Christmas bakets. A feat we didn't dare to do last year as we watched our donations and supply get smaller. We have a diocese who has recognized in this scrappy little church a seed of becoming a Jubilee ministry. This is now small thing. The recognition goes church wide. We are known for what we have done in the past with desegrating a swimming pool, hosting the beginnings of the rescue mission, and seen another turn at reconciliation in our worship mob. We have guilds who work tirelessly and endlessly on one rummage sale and one craft fair. Each of these is looked forward to by the entire community. We see people come through our doors and want to see the entire facility.  There is still vibrancy and effort and a future because we keep risking a step forward.

So this Sunday where we are brought to the high beam of the cross continues to ask us to keep letting go. All of our Christian walk is a continual surrendering. We are not our own, we belong to the Lord. Can we continue to risk? Let us dare to look into the future and see us building on the riches of who we are. Let go og the small and look toward the wider expanse of neighbors who help us. Take hope, this is only the beginning. Faith is a lifetime, let go.