Thinking Anglicans

in it with us

Today is a stark day, dominated by the image of a young man tortured to death. It poses us with terrifying options.

It may be that there is no meaning in the universe. That the savage beauty of this earth has no purpose. Human love is as futile as human hate. The suffering made for and by human kind in Rwanda, in Auschwitz, in Guantanamo, will not be blamed or redeemed or transformed. The love and courage of lone voices raised in protest will not be praised and valued. This young man, dying a stone’s throw from the noisy city, is deluded and his cry that God has forsaken him is no more than a fragment of the terrible truth, for there is no God and he was never the beloved son.

There is another option. There is a God, who sustains the whole world. He is a God so hugely bigger than our hearts can truly grasp that he has created a world where suffering and pain is, in one shape or another, the lot of us all. Yet we are not alone in that suffering, for he is in it with us. This same God is here in agony in this young man, suffering just about the worst that human kind can devise. He undertakes this willingly in order to bring about the paradigm transformation. His anguish will bring back purpose. He will give value to the pain of all sufferers by offering them a sea change from victim to health giver. He will transform not just the terrible hurt of the crucifixion, but every other hurt into which he is allowed. In his own way, he will change everything.

He will judge the oppressors and condemn their acts by his very conversion of them from destruction into new birth. He offers to all the opportunity for meaning in every action, calling them a possibility at once joyful and intimidating in its vast scale.

Today is a pivotal day. We stand before the cross to make decisions.

Hope is more terrifying than despair.

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Ford ElmsJosh L.Father Ron SmithEd BrennanAnn Recent comment authors
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Ann
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Thanks for this. I wonder though if Jesus was considered a young man in his day. The manhood ceremony happened at age 12 – the average life expectancy was in the 50s – so he would be middle aged on that scale.

Ed Brennan
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Ed Brennan

I share the belief “This same God is here in agony in this young man.” In my own agony and despair, God has transformed the terrible hurt. God is present in each of us; always has been and always will be. I do believe that Jesus was a son of God but will we believe Jesus’s teaching that we are all “sons of God”. And this belief does not preclude the acceptance of Jesus as our messiah and saviour.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

What proves to me the full humanity of Jesus is the fact that he actually experienced the absence of God (one of the descriptions of what sin is) before he died. This had to happen if Jesus was really to ‘take our sins upon himself’ God cannot die, therefore what was put to death in Christ was our common sinful humanity. In assuming our humanity at the Incarnation; God, in Christ, took upon himself the nature of our sins, and at the point of death, experienced the full impact of that transaction, on our behalf, by his sense of dereliction… Read more »

Josh L.
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Josh L.

This is awesome. Thank you for posting this. I’ve never heard Jesus described as a ‘young man’. I wonder why we never stop to think. The Episcopal Church got it right today. My phone had the stations of the cross from Trinity Wall Street Church. I almost felt like the church came to visit me today in my own world. I hope some of you got to experience it.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“I’ve never heard Jesus described as a ‘young man'” That’s because He wasn’t. In His day, He would have been considered to have reached a respectable middle age. Indeed, up to quite recently, most societies would have thought the same thing. Modern society has done two things in this regard. First, it has invented the category of “teenager”, and told that newly identified person that it is expected to rebel. This happened sometime around 1950. Prior to that, there were children, then young adults. Once one attained young adulthood, one was expected to function as an adult. Depending on the… Read more »