Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Ephesians)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM (begins again in September)
               Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM

Private Confession: By appointment.



The Gospel Procession

November 20, 2022 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

PROCESSION 22Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
November 20, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Last Sunday Of The Church Year
The Procession

A large contingent of the people followed him, and of the women as well who wailed and lamented for him. But turning to them Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem! Do not weep for me! But for yourselves, and for your children! (Luke 23:27-28)

Today’s liturgy is the “beginning of the end.” It is the “last holy communion” of the passing church year; and seven days hence by God’s mercy the church will celebrate the “First Holy Communion” of the New Church Year. And so in these flickering hours the Holy Spirit gives us this gospel of the Lord’s waning hours to show us the bigger picture.

It is not serendipity that this gospel is assigned for this day, because 1) what the Lord was doing then, 2) what we are doing now, 3) and what he will do at the “end of the age” are all of a piece. They are the beginning, the middle and the end of history.

In the bigger picture we are living in the Middle of human history but more than that we cannot say. Is it still the beginning of the middle? Or the middle of the middle? Or as Christians fervently pray the end of the middle, and beginning of the end? Again, we cannot say, but every generation can heed the Lord’s charge in last week’s gospel that, “When you see these things happening stand up tall, and hold your heads up high, for your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)

When the events of today’s gospel took place the Promise of the ages was fulfilled before the blessed eyes, of that blessed generation. But as often happens people do not realize at the time, the momentous events that are happening before their very eyes. How often do we say, “If only I knew then, what I know now.” If only I had appreciated those precious moments, that priceless person, but I took them for granted. And so the adage: “We can never appreciate something till its gone.”

But that, too, is okay because even if late we do finally appreciate; appreciate and render thanks to our God for the gifts given even if through tears. But best of all we wake up from our self-centered comas and begin to live; so that we can appreciate every moment of our lives, and give thanks to our God and Father for them. Such is life; and such is the goodness of God who, like a good teacher, gives nothing away, but lets the student discover it for himself, and then he finally “gets it.”

It is hard, yes, often heartbreaking, and tragic. But if God lets us learn the hard way now, imagine what untold things he is preparing us for when we enter Paradise with Jesus. Then we will be free of sin, death and devil; and fully engaged; fully at peace; and filled with all the fulness of God. Nothing you can attain in this life, nothing at all, is even close; and so “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you.”

The events we hear of in today’s gospel were the fulfillment of the Promise of the ages. It was foreseen by all the Prophets who testified of nothing else. It was seen by Abraham when he bound Isaac to make a sacrifice of his firstborn but God spared him; and so Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s Day. (John 8:56) And so did Moses of whom Scripture says, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Heb. 11:25)

What happened then at the place called, “The Skull” was the righting of all that had gone wrong. The balancing of the cosmic books. The absolution of the world’s sin by the Lord’s own pronouncement, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” It was the End of the world, the Old World that is, the sin-filled and dying world; And the beginning of the New in which we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13)

But though that Day is historically in the past – for Christ acted in real time and space, with real flesh to save us and not himself – it is a Day that will live on in renown unto the ages of ages! “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” Rom 11:33

It is the Day that the church celebrates now. That we are celebrating today in remembrance of him. But be careful because remembrance does not mean a charade, or simple mental recollection – perish the thought!

Today as we process into God’s house following after Jesus with gladness;, as we bow to the crucified, but now risen Christ; as we stand and sing alleluia’s in the gospel procession in anticipation of hearing his golden voice, his pearls of wisdom; and soon as we make the purest gospel procession of all; to the altar; to commune with our Groom, we are reliving the procession that we hear of in today’s gospel.

But not in sorrow!

Then, Jesus turned his head back to the women that followed and said, “Do not weep for me O daughters of Jerusalem, but for yourselves and for your children – and how often has that weeping come to women in all ages.

That was then. But now the Lord’s message is different because in light of the cross we are in full possession of perfect redemption, the remission of our sins, and the consolation of God’s love for us, and for our children! And though we are tempted to weep for them we need not waste the tissue because Jesus wept for them, and sweat blood for them, and he will bring them,
left-handed-crucified-criminals though they be at the moment – he will bring them to his right hand. To paradise to be with him.

And he will bring you as well!

“For in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
And through him to reconcile all things to himself.
Making peace by the blood of the his cross
whether things on earth or in heaven.” (Col. 1:19-20)

This is what our God is doing now by the Holy Spirit as we worship at his feet, and pour out our ardent desires before him. Desires he will grant his Beloved Bride the church: you are that church!

And there is still one more procession we should consider on this Last Sunday of the Church year, which is a rehearsal if you like of that Great and Final Procession. Of which Isaiah says:

“And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.”

Inspired by such rugged promises the church sings in verse 7 of “For All The Saints”

“From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost— “ Alleluia, Alleluia.

And again in v 2 of “Lift High The Cross”

Led on their way
By this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God
In conquering ranks combine.

This is the procession that we hear in today’s gospel, the procession we are engaged in this hour; and the one we will be part of at the End of the Age, “With the cross of Jesus going on before.” Hallelujah! Amen.