On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Texts for Sunday, December 1st, 2013 - The 1st Sunday in Advent

First Reading: Isaiah 2:1–5

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2In days to come
the mountain of the LORD's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
  3Many peoples shall come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
  4He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.
  5O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the LORD!\

Second Reading: Romans 13:11–14

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers;  12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;  13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Gospel: Matthew 24:36–44

36But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark,  39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.  40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.  41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.  42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.  43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.  44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

December 1st, - Matthew 25:36-44 - What the Text Says. by Pr. Fourman

ADVENT (Frederick Buechner)

The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you've never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart.
The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate just for an instant, far off in the deeps of you somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.

Matthew 24:36-44

So far in Matthew's account of Jesus' discourse on the last things we have been presented with the signs of the times and encouraged to understand them. The aim of these predictions is not the satisfaction of curiosity, but the strengthening of faith.  In this passage we are encouraged to be faithful and wise servants. The only problem we face is that the "work" is left undefined. 
Still, it's not hard to identify the "work" Christ has in mind. If we think in terms of ourselves, then our preparation for the coming day concerns the strengthening of our faith, of reliance of the grace of God realized in Christ. This would also be so for our brothers and sisters the strengthening of the faith of the community and its life.  If we think in terms of the world then surely the "work" is that of communicating the gospel.
24:36   Obviously referencing the day of Christ's coming. The "coming" of Christ refers to his coming to judge. The immediate realization of this coming is the "desolating sacrilege" (v15) of the armies of Rome gathered before Jerusalem, which led to the destruction of the city and the desecration of the temple in 70AD. 
These events, which occurred in the lifetime of "this generation" (v34) and serve as a paradigm of Christ's ultimate "coming" to take up his throne and execute judgment. So, "that day" is a day of divine judgment upon Jerusalem, and as with all such days of divine judgment culminates in the final day when everything wrong is set right. 
οιδεν (οιδα) perf. "[no one] has known” the perfect here is best expressed in the present tense.
της ημερας (a) gen. "[that] day" a measure used to determine a period of time; ουδε ..... ουδε "not/nor" των ουρανων (ος) gen. "[the angels] in heaven" an adjectival, possessive, the angels belong to heaven ο υιος "the Son" – which is missing in some manuscripts. It is obvious why it would be left out as it represents limitations attached to Christ's humanity ει μη "but only" – read the Father alone; expressing contrast by designating exception.
v37  The day will catch people by surprise, so be ready.  The first example of people being caught unaware by “the day” is Noah's generation. As with them this divine "coming" will catch the people of Israel unaware, but as Noah and his family were able to prepare so also watchful believers will be able to prepare. Tradition tells us that the church evacuated Jerusalem before the Roman siege, moving to Pella across the Jordan.
ωσπερ "just as" -  or “so also” - a comparative construction, producing a comparison between the days of Noah and the coming days of the Son of Man. In both people were caught up in daily life and then faced an unexpected judgment. 
η παρουσια (α) "the coming/ the arrival”, a word best understood as a divine appearing in judgment. For example, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a "coming" του υιου του ανθρωπου (ος) gen. "at [the coming] of the Son of Man". The genitive is temporal, "at the time when the Son of Man comes." The genitive του ανθρωπου, is relational.
τρωγοντες (τινω) part. "eating/consuming (noisily)” fig. partying as with "drinking", marrying and "being given in marriage, is modal, expressing the manner of their being in those days before the flood – they were absorbed in their lives.
αχρι + gen. "up to" – until- a temporal clause of time; "right up to the day when Noah went into the ark".
ουκ εγνωσαν (γινωσκω) aor. "they knew nothing" - they were ignorant; εως "until" - ηρεν (αιρω) aor. "took/swept away/destroyed”  απαντας (απασ) adj. "all" - everything.
ουτως "this is how [it will be]" η παρουσια του υιου του ανθρωπου "at the coming of the Son of Man"
Jesus' adoption of the enigmatic messianic title "Son of Man" is apt here as he is referencing Daniel's "Son of Man", the one who comes to the Ancient of Days to receive glory and power, Dan.7:13-14. The "coming" is heavenward for enthronement and judgment, rather than a coming to earth. The direction of Christ's coming is somewhat confusing, but in the end the consequences of this "coming" are indeed experienced on earth, eg. the destruction of Jerusalem/the destruction of the world in the last day and the gathering of the "watchful" in heavenly assembly.
τοτε adv. "at that time", rather than "then". παραλαμβανεται (παραλαμβανω) pres. "will be taken" - is taken; a futuristic present. It is interesting how we automatically assume that the person "taken" is taken to heaven, but the Greek is very unclear, the one "taken" may be the one "swept away" – that would discomfort many an evangelical. So also in v41 where the two women are grinding.
ουν "therefore" - a logical conclusion; γρηγορειτε (γρηγορεω) imp. "watch" a figurative meaning "be prepared" – an agricultural allusion, the root word means to farm, or till the ground, which requires a large dose of patient watchfulness.  οτι "because" a causal clause explaining why believers should keep watch. ποια/ ημερα/ (α) "on what day" - a Dative of time which may be properly translated "when".
γινωσκετε (γινωσκω) pres. imp. "know/understand [this]" possibly an emphatic imperative, "keep this clearly in mind". It is also possible to take the verb as indicative, "you know (you understand); it seems is obvious that… η/δει (οιδα) pluperf. "had known; had any inkling ποια φυλακη at. "at what time of night" (lit. in which watch). The dative is local, expressing within which watch, although the sense is temporal- the night watch consisted of blocks of three hours. διορυχθηναι (διορυσσω) aor. pas. inf. "be broken into/wall dug through" - as in digging through a mud brick wall. 

ετοιμοι adj. "must be ready" - be ready οτι "because" ωρα (α) "at an hour/at a time when you are not expecting him."

December 1st, On Hope - Advent 1 - A by Pr. Kruse

“This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.”  - John Wycliffe,1384.

Isaiah 2:1–5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11–14, Matthew 24:36–44

The First Sunday in Advent which is graced with these tests follows Christ the King Sunday, which in turn brings Pentecost season to an end. The end of Pentecost has a character of its own in the Common lectionary. It deals with matters of “the end.” By the first Sunday of Advent, the idea that: “all things must pass,” has been spoken in most pulpits. Christ the King Sunday asked a question of its own: “In spite of this, and in spite that Jesus Christ died on the cross, will you have Faith?” Faith is a heroic thing. It casts its lot, it bets its life on this Jesus. At the end of Pentecost season, on Christ the King Sunday, it might have been good to recall the words of Henry Nouwen: “The words heard most often in heaven are: Oh, that’s why!” 

Advent begins, maybe regrettably, with texts that seem to carry on the theme of end and destruction. Advent ought not be about that though. Unlike the last weeks of Pentecost, Advent is not about teleology but about Hope. 

That theme of Hope is evident in our Old Testament and Epistle readings. Jerusalem will see the Lord redeeming and setting right all things. The night is almost over now, says St. Paul, it will be daylight soon, prepare yourself. We can stand ready in fear and trepidation as the bumper sticker suggests: “Jesus is coming! Look busy!” That sentiment is not for Advent. Advent awaits the Lord in longing. One keeps the lamps full of oil because one is looking forward to meeting the Lord. (Matt 25:1-13) One keeps the house in order because one eagerly awaits his return, one treats ones fellow “wait-erers” with grace because one longs for the whole house to express a joyous sense of awaiting. (Matt 24:45-51) One expresses ones hope by working as if one knew him and his graciousness, for the way we do our work says something about our attitude towards the one for whom we do it. (25:14-30) One expects his judgement to be based on the theme: have you done as one belonging to my house would have, have you been eager to meet me to the point that you served all as if they were me for serving all is what I have done? (Matt 25:31-46)

Advent also has a penitential character to it. The history of Advent as a season is penitential. It is not clear when it became a Season of its own, but when it did, it became a purple season. In the 6th century it seems to have been observed from November 11th all the way to the Feast of the Nativity.  It became a four Sunday season - the Sunday closest to the feast of Andrew (November 30) and embracing four Sundays - sometime in the 10th century when it also became very much a fast, penitential season in preparation for the Christ Mass. 

Hope is not without its enemies and often hope is placed in things other than the Kingdom and the return of Christ. Some sense of penitence is therefore not out of order. Hope found in places other than the Christ has causes, not the least one being that, well, we have waited a long time and he ain’t here. When will he finally get here? Am I going to wait until I die? (in most cases, yes, by the history of faith) In waiting is the temptation of getting distracted. Distraction causes chaos in all places where it occurs, be that faith or the operation of motor vehicles, be that worship or roasting the Thanksgiving turkey. FailBlogs are full of videos of the results of traffic or  cooking gone wrong by distracted operators. 

Distraction brought on by a sense of spiritual exhaustion is not unknown to the spiritual guides of the church. Evagrius (346-399) is one of the earliest sources to devote some time writing about it. His term for it is “Acedia.” One caught that way does not want to pray but wants something else - anything else. He does not want to wait for the Lord, he wants to be about other business whatever that might be. He asks: “why do I live different,” but has no sense of how to live better and so drifts into the life around. (Jude) Evagrius feared that acedia barred its victims from the drive to repent, as they no longer cared about the things of God and began to be distracted by just about anything that demanded their attention or allegiance. Acedia drives away the possibility of sanctification.

How then do we find hope again and make our lives a joyous waiting for the Lord that spills out into a life that is always ready for his return and is seen as such? If they see us do they think that we are waiting for one whom we trust or do they think we fear his return? Are we calculating his “day” so we can be ready for that day on some schedule or do we pray the Lord hasten the day? And why do we want it to be hastened?

I am a Kraut. I am of the post war generation that spent their youth sharing the loathing over the character and honor of our country. There was a sense that we were all ontologically guilty - somehow. And something had been lost but no one wanted to say. Something and someone was missing. It was not spoken. It was not talked about. Stories of the 40's, if mothers and grandmothers told them, were told in hushed voices often with tears. Beneath the surface of my elders there were dark pools. There rested the memories of brother, sisters, friends no longer seen, laid in graves unknown if they had been buried at all. In those places rested memories of which no one was proud. Memories of being swept up in the moments, memories of doing what had to done to survive.  

As my generation came of age, we stirred up some of the dust because it was time to know. What happened, dad? What happened, grandpa? How could you?! And we shouted those accusations into loving eyes that were downcast in guilt and shame and those eyes, those faces, favored our own ever so strongly. After the rage was over. After all the self justifications were said, refuted, after all the helpless cries saying: "I don't understand myself," had faded, my generation is now left with faces in mirrors that we know are capable of the greatest evil in our time. There were no excuses. There are no excuses. The devil did not make our grandparents do this. Luther, often blamed for making Hitler’s hatred of the Jews possible, did not make them do this. They - we - did this. 

As German Lutherans, as human beings with a conscience, we know that what was done was wrong and evil. It is all right there to see. Luther would have condemned it in one of his all so famous tirades if he had seen it. The problem is that my generation will not let you be so quick to say that you see and you condemn. We have seen faces of very good people who saw but went along. We know that no one is above it all, but God. 

I use the word "charmed" to describe what happened. You, yes, you who read this, can be charmed by evil when it holds out its bright shining objects of false hope. It does us no good to find rationalizations that make us feel better about what happened once the evil is exposed and our participation is clear. We are not any good at telling good from evil. The snake lied. The snake also did not eat the fruit. We did. The next Holocaust is within your grasp. You are capable of it. It can happen here.  You, yes: you, may very well shout adoring praises as the next Pol Pot rides by, his limousine escorted by goose stepping soldiers. 

It gets dark around Hamburg at about 4 PM in the winter. At my house Advent candles were lit and Christmas decorations were made on dark winter afternoons. The stories of the war were told by grandmother and mother, with wet eyes cast down. It was at no other time in the year that these stories really came up. But in this season souls that had seen what people can do to one another were crying: "Redeem, Lord Jesus! Redeem." This is Advent for me. The cry of the soul: "This all must be answered for. This all must be judged. We must be judged. Come, Lord, judge the nations beginning with us."

Advent is a contemplative cry for the Lord to return, having done self examination and realizing the need for the world to be visited by the kingdom of heaven. Hope, repentance, and sanctification meet in these places of tears, guilt, remembrance, and longing.  “Oh, happy towns and blessed lands that live by their true king's commands,” begins the 3rd verse of Fling Wide the Door (“Macht hoch die Tür") These happy towns, may they, like Jerusalem of Isaiah 2, welcome the Lord and his ways. These happy towns, may the Word of God be for them and govern them so thoroughly that it governs from within and becomes of them as much as it is for them. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Texts for Sunday, November 24th, 2013 - The Feast of Christ the King

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1–6

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD.  2Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD.  3Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.  4I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.
5The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  6In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."

Second Reading: Colossians 1:11–20

11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully  12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.  13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,  14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;  16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers — all things have been created through him and for him.  17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.  19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Gospel: Luke 23:33–43

33When 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. [[  34Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing.  35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!"  36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine,  37and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"  38There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."

39One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!"  40But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong."  42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  43He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

November 24, 2013 - Luke 23:33-43 - What the Text says.- Pr. Fourman

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. 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

In a very matter-of-fact way Luke describes the crucifixion of Jesus: of the three "criminals" led to the place of execution, the place called "The Scull"; their being nailed to the transverse beam of the cross; Jesus' words of forgiveness, "Father, forgive them"; the curiosity of the gathered crowd; the scoffing of the religious authorities; the mockery of the soldiers as they divide the spoils between them; the attaching of Pilate's notice, "This is the king of the Jews"; the argument between the two insurgents ("criminals"), with the statement of faith by one and Jesus' promise to him of eternal reward, "today you will be with me in Paradise"; the oppressive darkness that shrouded the land between noon and 3pm.; the final words of Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; the statement by the soldier, "certainly this man was innocent"; and finally, the silent witness of Jesus' friends.
   This passage, detailing the crucifixion of Jesus, is the second episode of a series of six dealing with the glorification of the messiah. For Luke, the theological center of the crucifixion lies in Jesus' words to the repentant κακουργος, "criminal/wrongdoer". The religious elite, the soldiers and possibly the crowd, reject any possibility that this suffering fool could be the "Chosen One" (the Messiah). Only one person, a criminal, recognizes that Jesus could be the long-awaited savior. So, he asks Jesus to "remember" him when he gains his crown. Jesus agrees, but changes the "not yet" of the kingdom to "now".  So, in Jesus' death we see the end of the old age, and in his resurrection, the beginning of the new. 
Greek Notes 

23:32  κακουργοι (ος) "criminals" - It is generally agreed that they are more than just criminals, likely insurgents/terrorists (depending on your point of view).
αναιρεθηναι (αναιρεω) aor. pas. inf. "to be executed" - infinitive forms a purpose clause; "in order to be put to death" the aorist case indicates a present action with future ramification.
τον καλουμενον (καλεω) pres. pas. part. "called" - being called the Κρανιον "skull" – a site probably named after it's skull like shape, in Aramaic the Greek rendering is "Golgotha", but Luke drops this name. And yet by using it Luke preserves an actual historical memory, so it was a real place. εσταυρωσαν (σταυροω) aor. "they crucified" - none of the gospel writers describe Jesus' actual crucifixion but this was a public execution in a well-known (i.e. public) venue, again all pointing to the historicity of the event.  This is not some theological construct but an actual execution.
τους κακουργους (ος) "the criminals" - Mark has "bandits", the sense possibly being "terrorists", or if you were a Jew, "freedom-fighters" (or "insurgents" if you want to sit on the fence!). Luke may not have used Mark's word because of its political flavor. 

αφες (αφιημι) aor. imp. "forgive" actually to ‘remit’ the legal finding.   This prayer is not found in all manuscripts. οιδασιν (οιδα) perf. "they [do not/cannot] know" – i.e. understand. διαμεριζομενοι (διαμεριζω) pres. part. "dividing”  - adverbial, possibly temporal, "then they distributed his cloths among themselves". εβαλον (βαλλω) aor. "casting" - they threw; Matthew and Mark use the phrase, "casting lots". 
θεωρων (θεωρεω) pres. part. "staring”- adverbial, expressing the manner of their standing,
εξεμυκτηριζον (εκμυκτηριζω) imperf. "sneered at"  a durative action, so "continued sneering." Luke does seem to separate the officials from the people when it comes to this abuse.
λεγοντες (λεγω) pres. part. "they said" – saying; attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb " they continued mocking him and said" σωσατω (σωζω) imp. "let him save" – or elsewhere, “heal thsyself”!
του θεου (ος) gen. "of God” actually "sent from God" ο εκλεκτος "the chosen one" – a Messianic title, the one whom God has chosen.
προσερχομενοι (προσερχομαι) pres. part. "came upapproaching” a derivative of the word often translated as “prayer” in the NT. The participle, as with προσφεροντες, "offering", and λεγοντες, "saying", v37, is adverbial expressing means; "the soldiers made fun of him too by coming up and handing him vinegar, saying ....."  ενεπαιξαν (εμπαιζω) aor. "mocked" - ridiculed, some argue the offering of the sour wine the mocking in that a king would not be offered cheap οξος "wine vinegar" - a rough low cost dry red wine (cf. Ps.69:21)
επιγραφη (η) "a notice, a placard, a formal title” detailing the criminal's name and the charge for which he was being executed.
των κρεμασθεντων (κρεμαννυμι) gen. aor. pas. part. "one who hung there" εβλασφημει (βλασφημεω) imperf. "hurled insults" ουχι - "[Are]n't [you the Christ]" - the negative here indicates the question expects a positive answer, although it is clear he doesn't believe in Jesus. 
αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. having answered the other επιτιμων (επιτιμαω) pres. part. "rebuked" him. The participle is adverbial modifying the main verb "said", so "rebuckingly the other [criminal] answered and forcefully said to him". This is purely a Luken account and is so singular that it has caused debate as to its authenticity. 
ουδε φοβη/ (φοβεω) pres. pas. "don't you fear [God]?" as before a negation that expects a positive reply.  The second criminal recognizes Jesus' messianic credentials.

v41 απολαμβανομεν (απολαμβανω) pres. "we are receiving" what we deserve for ων gen. pro. "what [our deeds deserve]". The adjective αξια, "worthy, fitting, proper" ατοπον adj. "wrong" literally “out of place”. Jesus has done nothing deserving crucifixion. Luke is underlining the innocence of Jesus, although he is not suggesting this criminal is applying a knowledge of the law, rather he (of all people) senses the injustice at work.
μνησθητι (μιμνησκομαι) aor. pas. imp. "remember" "Remember me kindly/show me your kindness." A phrase often found on gravestone inscriptions at the time, a seeking divine recall of the person after death. A request that God place the deceased with the righteous on the day of judgment.
σημερον adv. "today". "Today" is a common technical phrase used of the messianic kingdom, and does not mean "this day", but rather "on the coming day." Some manuscripts place "today" with v42 - "remember me ...... today." The "coming day" is likely the day of resurrection; a blessing inaugurated in Christ but realized on the day of his coming again (that coming day). The blessing is "paradise"- the imagery of Eden where God was in complete fellowship with creation is inferred. This does not mean that Jesus actually believed or taught in such a place, only that there would be a restoration of what has been broken and the Criminal would have a place there along with the Messiah.  

τω παραδεισω (ος) "paradise" - the word used of an enclosed garden, later of a holding place after death where the righteous waited for the coming kingdom. Jesus likely meant "heaven" in the sense of a new Garden of Eden.

November 24, 2013 - Of Kings and Gears - Pr. Kruse

The reasoning of the tempters at the foot of the cross and the tempter in the wilderness is simple: “The “Son of God” could not, should not, and ought not die.” 
The reasoning in heaven is equally simple: “The “Son of God” can, needs to and, will be obedient.”
These two view will eventually have a wreck at the corner of Kingdom and World. The Gospel story for today is that wreck. - PK

Christ the king Sunday is not that old. It seems to have been created by the Franciscans for whom it had spiritual and theological overtones but was made a feast only as recent as 1925 by Pius XI in the encyclical Quas Primas. Pius’ motivation was a growing sense of nationalism in Europe following WWI. 
In a European mind, the ideal or spirit of “king” is yet alive and well, even though on face value though many Europeans would argue it. The idea of Government as the “accepted powerful other” is a staple of European politics. The monarch was raised and trained to be the one who would make weighty decisions for the common folk who accepted that someone else was in charge of a significant portion of their lives. If it had not been for this type of decision power, Lutherans might have faired differently during the 16th century but the peace of Augsburg makes sense in Europe - not in America which is made up of the minority views that could not let the king define what they believed. 
In true form to the traditional training of the prince to eventually take the throne, most German politicians have PhDs and the most efficient way to get rid of them is not the ballot box but rather a close investigation into their theses to root out possible cases of plagiarism. In the last decade that has derailed a few political careers in Germany. But, the PhD is to say to the common folk: “Here is one who has gained the expertise and approval to run a part of your life.” Americans of all stripes will bristle at the “run your life” phrase but that is part and parcel the job of a king: One who truly does know better. 
The connection of that thought: There is one who truly does know better, to our Colossians lesson would seem obvious. Christ, was present at the creation, through him and for him all things were made. He knows where all the levers are, he knows the dangers and possibilities of creation. No one can claim to know how the universe works and disagree with him. No one can argue about the purpose of human life with Christ, one can only listen because he was there at creation and he knows it first hand. He does not have to philosophize or theorize. He simply knows. 
This was one of Bonaventure’s, a Franciscan, arguments with Aquinas. Christ was incarnate from the beginning. Adam’s sin did not make it necessary for Christ to become incarnate. He already was. He was king from and to all ages, not a Prince - a lessor royal -  in training, pushed into action by circumstances. Christ Jesus came to his own, both in the sense of his own creation and his own possession. The Incarnation was not a repair job brought on by the sin of Adam for which one now owed the mechanic who was sent to fix this vexing problem but who knew otherwise little about the working of the universe. Jesus Christ was not a single purpose tool. 
This incarnate presence of Christ was important to the Franciscans spiritually as well. If indeed he was incarnate in and through all and if in that incarnate self all things held together, moved, breathed and had their being, then all things living need to be considered holy unto the Lord (Zechariah 14:20) of the universe and ought to be treated as such. Field and stream held great treasures but they were the monarch’s and one took them only by permission. Creation is the Lord’s possession and one is obliged to respect it even more-so. 
These two thoughts might guide us this week. The death of Christ is more profound than often told. It is not merely Jesus dying for our sins. It is the king of Glory, the King of Kings, the sovereign of the Universe, the reason for Being, that is dying on the cross between two thieves. He came to his own and they did not receive him. Have you ever told the Lord how things work here on earth? Have you ever tried to instruct the almighty? I would point those who would confidently answer “yes” to the book of Job, especially the 38th chapter and following. But that confident “yes” also comes from one of the criminals Jesus is executed with. He is certainly happy to tell Jesus what he ought to do right then. The other one has it right, he asks that the King do mercy for him whatever that mercy might be, trusting that Jesus might know best how to do this.
The spur gear does not tell the engineer why it is orbiting inside the internal gear. It has no idea what a tire is or how its own actions affect the wheels. No, the engineer knows best what oil ought to be in the transmission. It is his design, even if it has suffered abuse by the grind of daily life. Sin does not absolve the sinner from listening to the Creator even if the creation is no longer exactly what was created in Charity. To live with a King as your sovereign, instead of yourself, requires that you live conscious of the King’s mind and ways. To be ignorant of them is dangerous. What the sovereign holds precious you ought to respect.

At the same time, no part is unimportant. The wheel does not turn if the spur gear has disintegrated. All parts are lovingly designed by the King, a loving eye envisioned them. Not only that but: Deus non ex machina est.(God is not outside the machine) The assumption of a continued incarnate presence linked to the preciousness of all life ought to lead one to a life of reverence of all things living. St Francis was known to pick up worms in the middle of the road and move them to the side lest they be run over. I dare you to remember that image when you drive down the road on a wet spring or early fall day and the road is flush with worms. Do you swerve for woolly worms scampering across the road in Fall? You will now . . . They are the Lord’s, you know. As are you.