Our scripture this week is Luke 23:33-43.
I feel some explanation is in order for this week’s posts. I use the Revised Common Lectionary as my guide as to what scripture I will use here and in my sermon on Sunday. It gives me time to be fully involved with the passage in order to preach it, and those who will hear it Sunday time to prepare to listen. I think many of you who don’t attend one of my two churches still hear the same scripture when you go to your own church, regardless of denomination.
November 24 is the last Sunday in our liturgical calendar that marks the seasons of the church. On December 1 we begin the season of Advent, leading us to the hope, peace, joy and love of Christmas. If you have already looked at this week’s scripture you know that this passage is Luke’s description of the Crucifixion. I must admit, I almost chose another passage to preach on and write about here. Why would we read about His death when we are preparing to celebrate the coming of the baby Jesus?
There is logic to this, even if our emotions tell us it is wrong – as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:23 “we preach Christ crucified”. I have heard it said “You can’t have the cradle without the cross”. Advent and Christmas, as joyous as they are, point us to Good Friday. Perhaps we need to remember that connection.
We also need to remember that Easter is the reason for Christmas at all. Christ came as a baby to offer Himself as a sacrifice to save us, the greatest gift ever given. It was God’s plan and Jesus followed the Father’s instructions completely. We can celebrate Christmas today only because Jesus gave Himself up for us. As we prepare for the time of joy, keep in mind the goal of all of God’s action for us – to redeem us from sin and bring us to be with Him eternally.
Gracious God, we can’t begin to understand the depth of Your love and mercy for us. Thank You for sending Jesus to save us and show the way to reconnect with our brothers and sisters and You. Amen.