Charlie Brown is leaning against a tree talking to Lucy. She asks, “What do you think security is, Charlie Brown?” Charlie answers, “Security is sleeping in the back seat of a car when you are a little kid and you have been somewhere with your mom and dad and it is night. You do not have to worry about anything. Your mom and dad are in the front seat and they are doing all the worrying.” Lucy smiles and says, “That is real neat Charlie Brown.”
Then Charlie gets a serious look on his face and says, “But it does not last. Suddenly it is all over and you will never get to sleep in the back seat again, never.” Lucy gets a frightened look on her face and asks, “Never?” And Charlie Brown replies, “Never.” As they stand there sensing the terrible loneliness. Lucy reaches over and says, “Hold my hand Charlie Brown.”
The thief on the cross must felt that way. The cross was dark, blood had been spilled. The crowd was ugly, there was nowhere to turn, the old securities were gone. There was, however, someone in the middle who seemed in his terrible suffering to have a center, a grace, a majesty. The thief wanted in his fright and loneliness to reach out to him. Pleading like a wounded Lucy, “Jesus, hold my hand.” But fixed to the cross, he could not. So, he did the next best thing. He turned to his fellow prisoner and asked Jesus to remember him and Jesus said He would.
This Feast of Christ the King is grounded in these words. Strip away all the elegant metaphors all the medieval trappings. All the Golden Crowns and beneath it all behind the Royal Feast is a man reigning from the cross. Who said He would remember us. But like the good thief, we have to ask. Like the good thief, we have to first realize that the gig is up. That our old certainties no longer holds, if they ever did. Our salvation is elsewhere, and in that admission, in that moment of truth.
Dawning on us all as we face stressful times, we recognize what really counts. Who really counts. And we call out, “Jesus, remember me?” That call is a recognition of Jesus’ Kingship. His amazing love that can overcome all things, even death. This day you will be with me in paradise. That call is grounded in hope, that is why I think, especially, these days we are drawn back again and again to the Throne of Calvary; to this unsightly King of ours.
Because at times like these we need to hold His hand and ask, “Remember me?” I suggest that Calvary is our field of dreams, and that we have to visit there more often. This Feast of Christ the King is a way of reminding us that we ought to be paying homage. Paying homage to the one whose mercy is wide, whose forgiveness is legendary. Whose love transcends time and even terror. This Feast takes us back to Calvary and the three men on the cross. One dribbles into despair, one talks to God and turns in hope from his cross to the Man in the middle and wants to hold His hand.
So, too, today some are dribbling away their lives in fear and despair. The intent of this feast is to reassure us that Christ is in charge, Christ is King. Christ will remember us, Christ is among us. He will have the last word and make good on the final promise, and that final promise is paradise.