Jesus Remember Me
It’s strangely wonderful how music can be such a time machine. Every time I sing this Taizé chant I can’t help but think of my friend Susan Moore. We were both in our 20’s and new members of St. Christopher’s. We found ourselves in an adult formation program for confirmation or renewal of baptismal vows. We became fast friends—we shared stories about our faith, our questions, and our lives. Susan’s fiancée, Chris was a Navy guy. What I remember best about Susan was her infectious smile, her hair was the color of a sunset and she had sparkling blue eyes.
I don’t remember when it was that Susan was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
I just remember sitting in church praying for her and crying. It wasn’t fair. Our priest Amy called me one day. Susan was dying.
A group of us from St Christopher’s went to Susan’s home. We prayed the prayers for the dying at her bedside. We told stories and wept. We sang Jesus Remember Me as Susan slipped away. Susan’s father cried later that day as I stood in the kitchen and did the dishes. I was supposed to go first he told me.
On my way home, I couldn’t stop singing Jesus Remember Me. Over and over, I sang it and cried. I later told Amy that I felt so… inadequate, so powerless, so deeply sad. There was nothing I could do that day.
You were at the foot of the cross, she said. You were there. That’s all that matters.
Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday a late comer to the church calendar added after the World Wars to remember that our King was very different from earthly kings and empires.
King. Such a dated word. If you’re anything like me, the picture that comes to mind of a king is something like a fairytale. Perhaps the essence of Jesus’s reign would be better summed up if this Sunday were called Christ the Dictator Sunday. We know rulers of the earth who are authoritarian and cruel. Jesus’ reign looks different.
Every year we crown our church year with the story of our dictator dying on a cross. What kind of leader is this? He can’t save himself. So often Christians like to talk about the cross saying that Jesus died for our sins. That thinking is problematic at best. God was not the abusive parent who sent his son to die because he couldn’t look on us without the blood of Jesus covering us.
Rather, God shows us in Jesus how far he’s willing to take Their human venture of God in the flesh. How far? All the way to the cross. All the way to suffering. All the way to dying. That’s how far God is willing to walk with us. The cross is about solidarity. God’s solidarity with us.
Lest you think this is some kind of fangled California theology, I want to tell you that this idea of Jesus and the Cross being solidarity is not new thinking but comes from the Eastern Orthodox tradition and is a part of our tradition that we need to recover.
A mentor of mine in college had a sign that read, “86% of life is showing up”. God shows up for us and never leaves us alone. That’s who our king is. That’s the dictator we follow—one who is vulnerable and goes all the way with us to our crosses our pain, our suffering our dying. Jesus is there with us to unmask the violent powers of this world and show us that they are empty, and that love is everything. God shows up.
So what? Does it really matter what we think about the cross—does our theology really count? It counted on Monday night this past week as members of Ascension flooded into the Acer’s home and baked lasagna and cried and hugged. No one had the right thing to say or do. All we could do is show up and be at the foot of the cross together.
A little boy one day comes home late from playing with friends. Where have you been? His mother asks. My friend fell off his bike, broke it and started to cry. Oh replied the mother—did you help him fix his bike? No. said the boy. I sat down and I helped him cry.
That’s Jesus. He shows up in human form and weeps.
Jesus Remember Me When Come into your Kingdom…