Hope at Easter

   During this week when much of the world observes the sacred days of Passover, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, the underlying theology of each holy day centers on the power of death, the intensity of grief, and the hope of redemption.

   Often hope is elusive, especially when we grieve. When one we love dies, it takes spiritual fortitude to hope, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?” But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25).

    If we feel that all is lost, for a while we may see no value in hope. We question whether we should reinvest in life if there is a chance that our hope will again be disappointed, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (Psalm 42:11). In truth, when we are forced by death to come face to face with the emotional surrender of grief, this may be the most honest and faithful place we will ever stand to find the true meaning of hope, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

   At a Mandy Thursday service one year, the focus of the meditation was on the ancient ritual of foot washing, “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him” (John 13:5). The Apostle Paul describes our spiritual and emotional progression through the tests and trials of life that challenge our hope, “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us” (Romans 5:4-5). My eyes were closed as a stream of water was poured from a pitcher into a basin. In that moment, I heard the sound of poured love.

   We are assured that hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts. Not trickled in or carefully measured and added in by the cupful. Rather, we are filled to capacity, sometimes to overflowing, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit at work in our lives to inspire and renew our hope, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). At Easter, we dare to hope again in life because we are filled by the power of God’s love through Christ, “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).

   At this high holy season, we experience the power of the Incarnation, the reality of the Cross, and the presence of God poured out in love as the hope and glory of Resurrection. As those who grieve, may we live in the certainty that death is not the end, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21-23 NRSV).

    God is faithful. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. Thanks be to God. We are not alone.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   
1 Corinthians 15:57

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