Sermon Christ the King Year C 2019                                                                                              The Rev. John M. Atkins

Gospel of Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. The people stood by, watching Jesus on the cross; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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As I was sitting at my desk one day, I happened to gaze at the base of my all-in-one desktop computer. I was in deep thought, that is, until my eyes focused on the little sticker attached to the base. I blinked my eyes several times in disbelief. I hadn’t seen that sticker before; and the words made me very uncomfortable.    The sticker read: “The centerpiece of your modern family.”

While I recognize the importance of my computer

for answering email, doing research, writing for publications, and watching educational and fun videos I’ve never considered a computer the centerpiece of my life or my family. It got me to thinking: What is the centerpiece of my family; What us the centerpiece of my life?

I’m sure you’re aware, that I’m not speaking of creative works of art decorating dining tables. But as we approach Thanksgiving, I encourage you to notice and appreciate those thematic expressions.

I’m speaking of whatever you and I discover at the very center of our lives; that one person or group of people, that one practice, habit, activity, or item we have chosen to center our life around and the life of our family.

While I don’t intend to judge anyone’s choice, I do think there are healthy centerpieces and unhealthy ones. Only you know what is truly at the core of your individual and family life – what motivates you and your family to devote, time, energy, attention, money and commitment to it, as well as the reason for your choice.

Some of the countless possible centerpieces are: a cell phone, sports, pets, a romantic partner, children, parents, television,       a musical instrument, a person’s check book, vacations, a Bible, a bottle of wine, one’s employment or vocation, friends, an automobile, or a picture of one’s self.

There’s nothing directly bad with most things I’ve listed. In fact, some are quite wonderful. It’s just the weight we ascribe to our choice  over and above all other possibilities.

And, each of these possible centerpieces have a feeling attached to them, a positive emotion or a negative one, such as belonging, happiness, love, or anger, sadness, shame.

What is your centerpiece, and what is the feeling associated with it? Do you think your choice is healthy for you, your family and those within your reach of influence?

It’s good we ask questions of ourselves. That’s how we become aware and learn and grow. The theme for today may assist us with the challenging task of deepening our self-awareness.

Today is Christ the King Sunday. Luke’s Gospel reaffirms that we have a Sovereign  unlike any other Sovereign or national leader or spiritual leader.

As followers of Christ, we have a Sovereign who was crucified. We have a Sovereign    who forgave his mockers and murderers even as he was dying. We have a Sovereign who promised paradise to a repentant criminal. We have a Sovereign who showed us the depth of God’s love.

In God’s realm, Jesus reigns as Sovereign. He values all people and all creation and continues working to bring to the world God’s vision of peace, justice, hope and love.

The questions are posed to us: Does the centerpiece of our individual life and family life expose our gratitude, our faith, our commitment, our love to God?

Do our chosen centerpieces have anything to do with the Christ who feeds, heals, loves, forgives and died that we may experience and share God’s boundless, undying love?

Following Jesus requires integration of our faith and our behaviors. It does us well to examine what is the centerpiece of your modern family and your life?

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday, I hope the centerpiece on our dining tables triggers thoughts of our own centerpiece, and my prayer that the core of our lives displays God’s love joyful and effervescent in us.