Friday, 18 November 2016

Notes on a Sermon I Don't Have to Preach on the RCL Readings for The Last Sunday after Pentecost: the Reign of Christ the King—with reference to Col 1.11-20 and Lk 23.33-43

I decided to read the readings for next Sunday each day in Evening Prayer this week. It was part of my pattern of prayerful sermon preparation before I retired. I thought I'd do it again even though I'm not preaching this Sunday just to see what lights up.

This is what I saw. There's a lovely and evocative parallel pattern and energy between the Epistle from Colossians (1:11-20) and the Gospel (Lk 23.33-43). The verses seem to build on each other in contrast and irony: light and darkness, victory and defeat, worship and mockery, glory and abuse, life and death. See how they weave together:
Col 1:12 The Father…has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  
Lk 23:33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  
And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  
36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  
17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  
40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  
42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 
Striking. It could be a Canticle for Lent and Good Friday.