23rd November 2022

It is almost Advent, but not yet. This week marks the end of the liturgical year and the gospel readings from the lectionary draw to a close with Luke’s account of the crucifixion. So permit me to share a thought that is somewhat out of season.

‘And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him… And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”… The soldiers also mocked him… saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”… One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ (Luke 23:33-39, NLT).

How often do we find ourselves saying similar things? If he is really God, why doesn’t he… put an end to war… prevent innocent people from suffering… cure my illness… deliver us from climate change…?

The crucifixion challenges our expectations of what God should be like. An innocent man dies. A Father abandons his Son. Friends keep their distance. Mary weeps. And yet this was God’s way.

Stop for a moment before the rush of the coming season. Take a breath. Look for God in the dark and sad places of the world. Believe that Jesus saves… but maybe not in the way that you might imagine.

Ian Waddington