One day a friend of mine left his home early in the morning to attend the funeral of a neighbor. The deceased was a husband, a brother and a father. Driving home after the funeral my friend wondered what it might feel like to lose one’s father. That very afternoon he was forced to face that very reality as his own father, very unexpectedly died from a massive stroke.
When the news of his father’s passing spread, family and friends started to gather in his house. Sitting around the kitchen table they shared stories. They laughed and cried together. Suddenly my friend got up and left. To no-one’s surprise he ended up at the local supermarket. He gathered an assortment of foods to prepare dinner for those gathered in his home. When he approached the checkout counter he heard a familiar line, “paper or plastic?” He looked up and his eyes paused on the name badge of the checkout clerk. The name badge read: Hope. And hope he did.
We, Christians are a people of hope. No matter how dark our days or dire our dilemmas, we hold on to hope. Hope allows us and even almost forces us to go on when we think it impossible. Hope promises us light at the end of any tunnel of darkness. Hope not only provides us with the willingness to live but offers us life itself.
We, Christians are a people of hope because we believe in Jesus Christ who went through the darkest darkness of death in order to show us the brightest light of life. His resurrection is our invitation to hope.
Sometimes we are tempted to give up on this hope. Every morning as I read the newspapers and every evening as I watch the news I am struck by the pain and suffering that we inflict on ourselves and on others, both here and abroad. Where are we going? When will all this end. What can we do?
The season of Lent is an antidote to a dangerous spiral of despair and depression which often leads to a kind of paralysis of indifference. The season of Lent invites us to approach the pain and problems of our world anew, with a deep sense of hope rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The season of Lent encourages us to face our fears and challenge all that defaces humanity.
Most importantly, the season of Lent has the power to fill us with the Spirit who makes us cry out: “We can do better than this! We can be better than this! We will do better than this! We are better than this!”
I often dream of a world where everybody’s name is Hope. May it be soon.