SERMON TITLE: “The Seven Last Words of Christ: #2—Today you will be with me in paradise.”
SCRIPTURE TEXT: Luke 23:32-43 (esp. 23:43)
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: March 5, 2017, at First UMC
You have all now heard that Ramona Whipple passed away on Thursday. At 96 ½ years of age, Ramona was one of our church’s much-beloved shut-ins. She and her husband Wayne were very active in this church and at the Pinecliff United Methodist Camp up by Coalville. On Wednesday, as I sat by Ramona’s bedside with her daughter Pam and we watched Ramona closely for any expressions or responses, I was aware how much we human beings value the final words spoken by our loved ones as they pass away from us. I guess that’s why Christians have cherished the words that Jesus spoke as he was dying on the cross.
On Ash Wednesday, I started a Lenten sermon series on “The seven last words (or statements) of Christ.” We began with “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Today, we’re reading a little farther in Luke chapter 23, and overhearing Jesus’ conversation with the two criminals who hung on crosses to his right and left. As we contemplate Jesus’ promise to the repentant thief, let’s imagine Jesus speaking those words of mercy to us: “Today, you’ll be with me in paradise.”