Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

It is Wednesday evening and our church has just completed a six scene journey into the streets of Jerusalem, and a seventh setting that called us to prayer and song. This evening plays a critical role in our preparation for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morn. I am thankful for the night and the many people who helped make this experience possible.

Another critical part of my Holy Week experience is my devotional walk with Stanley Hauerwas' text The Cross-Shattered Christ. Today I looked with him at the second word; "Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." This emerges from Jesus' exchange with the criminals crucified to his right and left. One of the criminals responds to Jesus in disdain. The other in faith. Hauerwas engages in a fascinating argument on why each of the two might have responded as they did. In the end he speaks to how Scripture speaks with power in its silence - by not filling in the blanks for us so that we must draw closer and listen.
In the criminal's request to be remembered when Jesus comes into his kingdom, Hauerwas observes; "We desperately ask to be remembered, fearing we are nothing. In contract this their confidently asks to be remembered because he recognized the One who can remember....This thief is able to see acknowledge that that is indeed the One to redeem Israel." (p42) His statement resonates deep within me. I watch as other try to create their legacy here on earth that "future generations might remember." They fail to see that the only legacy that matters is a legacy of faith in Christ. It is only this legacy that will bring them into the eternal embrace of God. Hauerwas offers; "To be in paradise is to be "with Jesus," to be fulled into God's life by the love made visible on the cross." (p44) May we seek to be remembered by the only One who can remember us when He is in his kingdom. May we seek to be in Paradise - in relationship with God here and there - through this one named Jesus.
Grace and Peace, Tom

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