During this Easter season, I bring you words of hope. After all, more than any period on the Christian calendar, Eastertide is characterized by hope. Perhaps you have been in a meeting where participants name a word that they associate with an event, person or experience. Whether it is done on newsprint, with post-it notes or by Mentimeter, the word hope receives lots of votes in association with Easter.
So Eastertide is a great season! Because all of us need an ample supply of hope in our lives! At times each of us faces situations that only hope remedies. I am talking about circumstances that bring pain, fear, anxiety, regret, guilt and other negative feelings. This past year the pandemic, racial injustices and national divisions have amplified our need for an abundance of hope.
Hope is a desire for tomorrow to be better than today. Biblically speaking hope is the expectation of a better tomorrow built on confidence in God’s work through Jesus Christ in our lives and the world.
Jesus Christ is the author of Christian hope. The hope barometer increased in the heart of one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus as described in Luke 23:39-43. As the repentant criminal realized that the man on the cross beside him was the Son of God, his outlook and future changed.
Then, the last words Jesus spoke on the cross as recorded in John’s Gospel still resound across the ages. “It is finished” (John 19:30) signified to all who heard and understood that the hope for the pathway to humanity’s salvation had been accomplished with Jesus’ life, death and soon-to-be resurrection.
Three days later, when Mary Magdalene heard Jesus call her name outside the garden tomb, her life changed radically for the better. (John 20:16-18) Her hope inspired her to run to tell the other disciples that she had seen Jesus.
Yes, Eastertide is the ultimate season of hope as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The Resurrection event makes possible forgiveness for our past sin and mis-steps . . . the experience of new life that begins now in this moment . . . and the promise of eternity with God. That is our hope and reality.
Our hope affects not only you and me, but other people. In a recent podcast, coach and consultant Ron Martoia shared research about how our hope can be measured by the physical energy we emit. When our hope tanks are full, it positively impacts others.
Friends, as followers of Jesus Christ, you and I are people of hope. This past year, the combination of the pandemic, racial injustices and national divisions has at times caused hope to wane. During Eastertide I invite you to bask in the glorious reality that in Jesus Christ our tomorrow can be better than either today or yesterday.
That will require us pausing long enough for hope to wash over us, changing our outlook.
Moving from believing in the concept of hope to embracing a whole new perspective is precisely what Jesus’ resurrection did for those first disciples and what it does for us today.
When we accept the new tomorrow that comes with resurrection, Christ’s power moves us from hope to action. We then become hope carriers. As this happens, we spread hope near and far.
Have a great and hope-filled Easter season!
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference