Friday, 10 April 2009

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.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah on Friday, 10 April 2009 at 7:36am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: just thinking

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.

Posted by: Ann on Friday, 10 April 2009 at 2:35pm BST

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.

Posted by: Ed Brennan on Friday, 10 April 2009 at 11:32pm BST

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 and abandonment by God. However, the Good News is that Jesus was also the Son of God, The Christ, whose eternal divinity was not in any way compromised by the weight of our sins.
Rather, he took them through the veil of death, wherein they were transformed by his resurrection power into a newness of life.

I remember once making my confession as a young man in the venerable Church of All Saints, Margaret Street, when the priest said to me, after the sad catalogue of my sins had been revealed: "Ron, did you know that God takes the rubbish of our lives and re-cycles it"? I have never forgotten this message. This for me at that time in my life was a resurrection moment.

To realise that this was what the life and death and resurrection of Jesus was all about was life-transforming and one of the reasons why I eventually became a priest. Deo Gratias!

Christus Vincit!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 11 April 2009 at 2:12am BST

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.

Posted by: Josh L. on Saturday, 11 April 2009 at 3:54am BST

"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 society, that could happen as young as 14 or 15. Even 12. That's why we get confirmed at 11 or 12. We are expected to be mature enough, and once we would have been, to start behaving grown up. Kind of an internship for adulthood. Then, there is the fact that we have decided that, while we can't prevent the process of growing old, we can ignore it and surgically and chemically alter ourselves to pretend it isn't happening. So, age is the enemy and you lose validity as a human being once you commit the sin of allowing yourself to be seen as no longer young. You have allowed age to win, let down the side, so to speak. While 33 isn't old, it isn't young either. But the only other thing you can be in our day is "young", so therefor, a 33 year old is a "young man" in exactly the same category He was in when he was 20, since we can't accept the there is a valid stage of human existence that is not young.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 13 April 2009 at 1:47pm BST
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