What is the ‘present moment’ of the Church’s life like? Well, it is all too like the response of the disciples in Jesus’ lifetime. How very tempting, then, to turn our emotional energy and imagination towards a ‘better’ Church, away from the embarrassing present moment. Nonetheless, it is here, in Jesus crucified and in the struggling and failing community, that the coming of the Human One in glory is made visible to the world.
It is a vision that the contemporary Church might well ponder. Paraphrasing St Paul, we might say that ‘liberal’ Christians look for a clear and purified future and ‘traditionalists’ look towards a more faithful and less compromised past. Yet the gospel remains the gospel of the crucified, asking of us an attention to the reality that is before us and within us here and now, a reality that will be scandalous and painful. Pascal’s stark assertion that ‘Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world’ is much in the spirit of Mark; and it is not an observation about the deplorable state of unbelievers, but an exhortation to believers to keep awake — awake to their own inability to stay in the almost unbearable present moment where Jesus is — rather than look for an unreal future or past to run to.
— Rowan Williams, Christ on Trial