Hope is one of the most resilient, and troubling words, in the Christian vocabulary. Wedged between, ‘faith’ and, ‘love’, it is there as a reminder of what is supposed to illuminate our believing and our living out of what we believe.
We are familiar with phrases like, ‘hope springs eternal…’ and there are others like it: ‘Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.’ ‘There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.’ ‘Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.’
Maybe you know the John Cleese quotation from the film Clockwise: ‘It’s not despair I mind; it is hope I can’t stand.’
Here we are in Holy Week, with Easter, the apex of the Christian faith fast approaching. Here we are still waiting for hope to be fulfilled. To live in a state of hopefulness about anything can feel sometimes like living off fumes. So many of us in Presbytery will have felt that as the last months unfolded, we were running on empty.
But hope we must, because the alternative is too awful to contemplate. However difficult we can find the idea of hope, it is almost as if we cannot help ourselves. Each new dawn, each flower bursting into bloom, each tree bursting into leaf. It is almost as if the DNA of Creation is suffused with hope.
Hope attempts to move us forward. Hope points us towards the future. Hope lifts up our heads. Hope warms our hearts.
Hope is central to the message of Jesus and the promise fulfilled of His resurrection. Pain is not the last word. Rejection is not the last word. Darkness is not the last word. Death is not the last word.
We are left, in the end, with resilient, troubling, persistent hope. Nudging us along, not leaving us alone, and endlessly offering light and newness.
This Easter, for all of us in the Presbytery, I pray that we experience the reality of the living Jesus, the reality of His living hope, and prepare ourselves, again, for better days to come.
Very Rev Dr Derek Browning
Moderator of Presbytery