My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus Name
When all around my world gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay
-Edward Mote, 1834
That seems pretty straight forward – I trust Jesus simply because He is.
But that is part of the problem, it’s to simple.
We have turned out scholars from universities both here and abroad and suddenly our lives are such a complicated mess that we no longer trust and believe in God and the hope he offers.
On the world’s stage it is time for Easter to make its annual appearance. That means time for kite flying, Easter egg hunts and the Easter bunny.
The irony here is that we have thrown out what we cannot rationalise for that which makes absolutely no sense – a bunny with a basket of coloured eggs. Really? Really?
The story of Easter offers hope, it is about hope.
In a time when there are so many people living in desperation and looking and longing for hope, Easter offers a message that the church needs to shout with vigour. It is not a message that people need to go to church to hear, it is a message that the church needs to go to the world with.
I have met people who are confronted with seemingly hopeless situations – losing their jobs, their homes, their savings and insurance policies. We see “powerful” governments and banks falling to their knees and taking desperate measures and people are looking for answers. Easter offers the answer.
Faith in the resurrection of Jesus is an affirmation that there is a future for every human, but as special as the celebration of Easter should be the world with its strange cultures is trying to take away its spiritual value. Worst yet, the church in some areas, through silence is allowing this to happen.
On Easter, the church proclaims the most important and radical fact in the history of humanity: the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has brought a new hope of happiness and salvation for the whole world. At the same time, the commercial environment of our modern society tends to make this holiday into a flimsy “sale event”.
The difference between the two celebrations is enormous. It is the difference between nothing and everything. Easter must be a time to renew our hope. It is a feast day that gives full meaning to our lives.
The mystery of the resurrection of our Lord, gives us hope, a virtue that we can easily neglect but one of the theological virtues, infused by God together with faith and love, and without which we cannot develop our spiritual life.
The well-known French convert, Charles P√guy, described in a poem the value of hope and its relation to the other two virtues we receive from God, namely, faith and charity: “Faith is a faithful wife, charity is a passionate mother, all heart… And hope is a tiny little girl. But, nevertheless, this tiny little girl, she alone, bringing along the other two virtues, is the one who will go through worlds of obstacles. As the star led the Magi from the far corners of the east to my Son’s cradle, so a flickering flame, hope, she alone, will guide the virtues and the worlds, a flame will break the eternal darkness.”
That flame that brought us the “little girl” hope, that passionate fire, which in the Easter Vigil celebration was represented by the Easter candle, is the risen Lord. “He is our peace,” as St. Paul said. (Eph 2:14) And he is our peace because he has brought us the gift of hope, which lights any darkness in our lives.
We are called to be a church that desires to love others the way we have been shown love, on the rugged cross of Calvary. The kind of love that presses in and won’t pretend that everything is okay, when it isn’t. A people that find common ground with our neighbours and anyone who hurts, has felt pain and is facing loss.
A church that comes alongside the needy and oppressed. The Church of Jesus is called to praise in the midst of fear and uncertainty. For it is in these days, that the hearts of people all across the world are more and more open to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Theologian Tom Wright once said: “Easter is the central event of world history, the moment towards which everything was rushing and from which everything emerges new.”
Easter is about making a way for everyone to share in the resurrection, and have a hope that all things can be made new. The incredible promise that Easter brings is that we can look ahead at the path winding before us, and know that there is redemption at the end.
When your faith is firmly anchored in the cross of Jesus and the sacrifice He made, then we can have the hope and assurance that we have goodness, grace and mercy that will follow us all of our days.
May this Easter weekend be filled with family and community, and may you take the time to reflect on God’s incredible sacrifice, the empty tomb, and our lasting hope.