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.” (Luke 23:39-43)
As Reverend Elizabeth mentioned during the adult forum this past Sunday, ‘remembrance’ is one of the ways that the Scriptures imagine redemption. The Psalmist pleads God, “remember me according to your love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord” (Ps. 25:6), for example. And in today’s lesson, we see one of the two criminals between whom Jesus is crucified pleading Jesus to “remember [him] when [Jesus comes] into [his] kingdom,” to which Jesus responds in words that have been etched into my memory since childhood: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” I’ve been reflecting on how powerful memory can be. Memory can be both a blessing and a curse. The loss of it (through Alzheimer’s, for example) can be devastating, and momentary lapses of it (as are more and more common as we age!) are frustrating to us. Yet, much of our wellbeing in life hinges on not remembering everything (as trauma patients might remind us). The life of the kingdom of God, which Jesus tells the criminal he will enjoy that very day, promises the redemption of our memories. The recovery of things or people forgotten but dear to us; the transformation of the bad things that have happened to us so that they are no longer painful to us; the renewal of our capacities to be present to one another and to remember what brings someone joy. For all these things, we plead our Lord to remember us when he comes into his kingdom.
Let us pray: O God, you have called us to be your children, and have promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of your glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Bless: One of the ways we can honor one another is by remembering the gifts, assistance, or love others have given to us. There are very simple ways to do this that can make a huge difference in someone’s day, career, or life. Find a way today to commend someone for the help they’ve been to you. Write a note to their manager. Leave them a great review. Give them a call. Send them a letter. Remember them and give thanks for them.