Dear friends in Christ,
The last week or so has brought strange weather to Cincinnati where I live. We’ve had some gorgeous, sunny spring days of almost 70 degrees. And we had snow. It’s almost cruel to experience the glory of spring and then have to wear full-on winter garb.
As I was walking around some gardens downtown lately, it occurred to me that the weather isn’t so different from my engagement with other parts of my life.
On the one hand, we have vaccines and in many places COVID numbers are going down. On the other hand, variants are spreading, people engage in reckless behavior, and COVID cases are surging in some places. Should I be filled with hope? Or despair?
More people are broadly aware of systemic racism now, and George Floyd’s murderer was held accountable. On the other hand, I know that racism abounds and we have so very much work to do to create an equitable, just society. Should I be filled with hope? Or despair?
Mainline churches were in decline before the pandemic, and it’s likely that these tough times will cause many churches to close. On the other hand, I think more leaders are gaining clarity on what the church is here for in the first place, so perhaps we’ll actually get to the business of making disciples. Should I be filled with hope? Or despair?
It can seem naïve to cling to hope when the immediate picture is grim. I don’t blame people who get worn down by life’s circumstances and lose hope. But I think hope is where we’re called.
Things looked grim for Jesus and his followers on Good Friday. But Easter was coming. It wouldn’t have been wrong for Jesus’s disciples to shed tears and bemoan their situation while also hoping for something better. Hope does not deny our experience of pain and grief.
In fact, I think hope can be exactly what allows us to take an honest look at the challenges in our lives, in our church, and in our world. We can see where we are. We can dwell with all the pain we experience. And, at the same time, we can be filled with Christian hope.
There’s no better time than Eastertide to practice Christian hope. Let us all take an honest look at where we are. Name the difficulties. Experience the grief. And then let us look toward the day when God will wipe away every tear and all will be made right.
As for me, I’ll try not to grimace if I have to put on my winter coat again. It’s part of the journey, after all. Summer is coming.
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Image: Scott Gunn
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