Reign of Christ — Ordinary Time (Proper 29)
Luke 23:33–43/23:34–44 IV
The Prince of Peace Reigns
Jeremiah 23:1–6; Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11–20
Sharing Our Joy and Concerns
A Reading from the Psalm
Listen for God
Play the vocal recording of “Be Still” CCS 156 OR “Dios está aquí (God Is Here Today)” CCS 150 found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings.
“Lead Me, Lord” (sing this several times) CCS 450
OR “Bleibet hier” (sing this twice, once in German and then use the English words found at the bottom of the page) CCS 468
A Reading from the Gospel
Luke 23:33–43/23:34–44 IV
Song of Reflection
“Jesus, Remember Me” (sing several times with various instrumentation) CCS 459
Based on Luke 23:33–43/23:34–44 IV
Play the next hymn quietly as the background for this reading.
Reader 1: Jesus, you received the worst this world has to offer, and yet you responded with forgiveness, mercy, and compassion.
Responder 1: Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. [Luke 23:34]
Reader 2: While some rejected and attacked, you responded with offers of friendship and companionship.
Responder 2: Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise. [Luke 23:43/23:44 IV]
Reader 1: We often do not give our best.
Responder 1: Remind us that even when we are at our worst, you offer unconditional forgiveness, mercy, and compassion.
Reader 2: Sometimes we get mad and frustrated when life doesn’t go our way.
Responder 2: Make us aware of your constant presence and love.
All Readers: Come now, O Prince of Peace. Reign in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
Prayer for Peace
Hymn of Peace
“Ososŏ (Come Now, O Prince of Peace)” CCS 225
OR “You, Lord, Are Both Lamb and Shepherd” CCS 22
What Is Peace?
Ask everyone to think of a word or phrase that describes the peaceful reign of God on Earth.
Light the peace candle.
The leader begins the prayer with:
O God of Peace, we yearn for a time of true peace in our world. We share our visions of peace and offer them sincerely and humbly as our prayer. God of justice and peace, give us a world that is [have everyone insert their words or phrases into the prayer]. This we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Additional ideas: The Daily Prayer for Peace services offered at the
Temple in Independence, Missouri, are on the church’s website as
Calendar Events at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Disciples’ Generous Response
Free the full capacity of Christ’s mission through generosity that imitates God’s generosity…follow your soul’s yearning to come home to God’s grace and generosity.
—Stephen M. Veazey, words of counsel presented to the 2013 World Conference
Created in God’s image and called to grow in God’s likeness, as transformed beings through the power of the Spirit, we will devote ourselves to the mission of Christ Jesus as we work for the blessing and salvation of humankind. That is our call. That is our task. We will not forget. Amen.
—Velma Ruch, The Transforming Power of Prayer, vol. 2
(Herald Publishing House, 1999, ISBN 9780830908325), 194.
For additional ideas and resources, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Receiving of Mission Tithes
Hymn of God’s Generosity
“Give Thanks” CCS 134
OR “Look at This Man, Born of God” CCS 26
A Reading from the Old Testament
“O Carpenter, Why Leave the Bench” CCS 25
OR “We Would See Jesus” CCS 35
“Who Is This Jesus” CCS 38
OR “A Man of Ancient Time and Place” CCS 30
Ordinary Time (Proper 29)
Exploring the Scripture
This text contains several dichotomies. First, there is the intensity of Jesus dying and suffering on the cross and yet tender responses from him as he says “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (v. 34). Even in his suffering Jesus ministered to others. Those he forgives in this scripture passage are Roman soldiers who have been cruel to him and others. But in fact, Jesus is forgiving all involved, not just the soldiers. The Jewish leaders who had long wanted to be rid of Jesus were present in the crowd. Curious onlookers continued his torture by mocking him. The soldiers charged with the task of crucifixion divided the fine clothes that had been given to Jesus symbolizing him as “The King of the Jews” (v. 38).
Amid all this torture and suffering, the love of God shows in Jesus until his final breath. He is willing to defeat hatred, injustice, and cruelty with the simple act of loving those who are committing these atrocious acts. He models how all should respond to those who mistreat and abuse them. He defeats the cruelty of this particular and widespread form of punishment.
Because crucifixion was such a shameful form of execution, the Gospel writer wanted to make clear that Jesus’ crucifixion was different. Even in his suffering and pain, Jesus brings Divine dignity to the scene by forgiving his executioners and loving the people committing the atrocious acts, all while having a tender conversation with one of the men hanging next to him.
Luke is the only Gospel writer to record the conversation of Jesus and the men on crosses next to him. One of the men cruelly taunts Jesus by “deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’” (v. 39). This phrase is a reminder there will always be doubters who must be shown a different way. But this opened another conversation with the penitent thief who, in defense of Jesus, says to his fellow criminal, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed…are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong” (vv. 40–41). Once again the shame and humiliation of the moment is lovingly shattered as the thief says, “…Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42).
In a fitting way, Jesus dies among the outcasts of society: criminals, thieves, and murderers. And in the way Jesus lived his whole life, as he is dying, he grants mercy for all involved. Consider the tender moment when he says to the penitent thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (v. 43).
In that moment, Jesus connects with the promise of eternal life. Jesus began his ministry in Luke 4:18 proclaiming the “good news to the poor” and “release to the captives” and now he ends his life with loving assurance of eternal life to one of life’s captives who is next to him on the cross. Jesus’ ministry of life has come full circle with his death. The world will awaken with his resurrection.
In this last moment of Jesus’ life shared so poignantly in Luke 23:39–43, we are reassured that the good news of the gospel is fully realized in the present.
- Forgiveness is central to God’s reconciling love for humankind.
- Jesus’ death occurred among the oppressed and marginalized, just like his birth and his earthly life.
- Christ’s mission, through compassion extended to all, transforms lives.
Questions to Consider
- Put yourself as one of the characters in this story (soldier, onlooker, thief, etc.) and read the scripture again. How does it feel? What thoughts do you have about Jesus and his mission looking through their eyes?
- When have you felt forgiven? How does this scripture expand your understanding of forgiveness?
- Who is worthy of Christ’s compassion? Has there ever been a time when you did not feel worthy?
- What possibilities do you see for the compassion of Christ to be transformational in today’s world?
- How did Jesus’ display of love and forgiveness on the cross reshape the prevailing view of God? How did it impact you?