Contributed by Lindean Barnett Christenson, Bozeman, MT


Warm-up Question

  • How do you hope to be remembered at the end of your high school (college/current) career?
  • How do you hope to be remembered at the end of your life? By whom?

It’s Good to be Remembered

Friday, November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For much of this month there have been special editions of news magazines on the stands, special segments on the nightly radio and television news, and hours of TV specials replaying highlights from Kennedy’s life, footage from his presidency, and endless talk of conspiracy theories regarding his death. Remembering JFK and his death is evidently important in the US on this 50th anniversary.

At the same time, the news is full of images and stories coming from the Philippines after super-typhoon Haiyan. The storm system killed hundreds, if not thousands, most of whose names we in the US will never know. Millions have been affected in some way, and the relief and rebuilding efforts will undoubtedly take years – and continue even after the next disaster or tragedy takes over the airwaves. For many people around the world, the devastation of the typhoon will be “old news,” and largely forgotten, sooner than later.


Discussion Questions

  • Do you think it’s important for students today to study mid-twentieth century events? Why or why not?
  • Do you think it’s important for students today to study current events? Why or why not?
  • What do you feel like you should do to remember JFK? Or those suffering in the Philippines? Why?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, November 24, 2013 (Christ the King Sunday)

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Colossians 1:11-20

Luke 23:33-43

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

shutterstock_113005723edit“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The request from one of the criminals crucified alongside Jesus sounds so different from all the other words hurled at Jesus on his way to death on the cross.

The religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, and even the other criminal being executed by crucifixion all mocked Jesus and scoffed at him. IF you are the Messiah, then SAVE yourself, they said, assuming that of course if Jesus had the power to save himself, he would. But Jesus is a Messiah who saves others only by not saving himself, demonstrating what sort of king he really is.

Somehow, the second criminal saw the truth of what was happening: that he had been rightly condemned for his guilt, but Jesus was innocent. He didn’t demand to be rescued from his fate. He asked to be remembered, not to be forgotten, perhaps perceiving that Jesus would enter his glory not by coming down from the cross but by dying on it. And Jesus promised him a place in paradise.

In baptism we, too, are promised life with God, now and forever – because Jesus died and was raised again. Jesus will remember you, too.

Discussion Questions

  • What do you make of the second criminal’s request that Jesus remember him? Is it surprising? Not surprising?
  • When you are desperate, do you pray? What words do you use?
  • How is “remembering” part of your life of faith? What other Bible stories/verses can you think of that talk about remembering? (“Do this in remembrance of me…”; Remember your creator in the days of your youth (Eccl 12); Remember the Sabbath day, etc.) How does what you remember determine who you become?
  • How are the promises of baptism meaningful to you in your day to day life? How does it feel to know Jesus remembers you?

Activity Suggestions

  • Ask several people who are old enough to remember where they were when JFK was assassinated, and what they remember about that day and subsequent events. If there are other dates important in your community, ask about those as well (the Challenger explosion, 9/11, etc.).
  • Using online resources, learn about ongoing relief/repair efforts in places affected by tragedy in the past few years. (Haiti post-earthquake, Japan post-tsunami, Gulf Coast post-Katrina and post-Deepwater Horizon oil-spill, might be places to start). Discuss the leadership and support of those efforts.  Who’s there? Where and how do you see the kingdom of God in those places?
  • Create a list of those who might feel “forgotten” in your community and around the world. Brainstorm ways you can remember them (perhaps an ongoing prayer list, sending notes, visiting, collecting resources for disaster victims). Choose one or two and make a plan to follow through.


Closing Prayer

Christ our King, in love you chose to save others by not saving yourself. Remind us again that your kingdom is coming, and that it is among us.  Remind us that in your kingdom the lowly are lifted up, the lost are found, and the last are first. Help us remember you and the life to which you call us. In your holy name we pray, Amen