Hope Is A Good Thing // M-Note 3.12.2021

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing.”
In case you don’t recognize it, it’s a line from Shawshank Redemption. It is one of those movies that anytime I see it on tv, I have to stop and just watch. I recently introduced it to George, my youngest. I’ve seen it 100 times, but he had never heard of it. The line above is one that Andy shares with his friend Red. They are both in prison, probably for life. Red warns Andy about the dangers of hope, the problem with clinging to something so unrealistic. But, it doesn’t deter Andy. He utters this line in response to Red’s warning. It wasn’t a blind optimism that ignored the darkness and feelings of despair. Rather, it was a belief that despite all the challenges, they could and would persevere.
I have been thinking about hope a lot lately. Easter is less than a month away, and it is a day that we celebrate Christ defeating death, rising from the dead, and promising all of us ultimate victory over pain, suffering, sin, and death. It is a day and a season when we are called to claim and remember our hope! Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Ephesians:
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people
This hope of Easter is also not a blind optimism that sugar coats the tragedy and injustice of the world. It doesn’t ask us to ignore the seemingly intractable challenges or pain in our lives. Not at all. Instead, this hope asks us to take those things seriously, to face them, to suffer through them knowing that they ultimately will not (and cannot) win. We will persevere, with Christ’s power in us, and get to the other side. And the other side will be glorious!
This season may be hard for you. Maybe it is parenting challenges, or difficulties at school, maybe you are tired of being tired, or uncertain about how you will get through a significant challenge in your life. Maybe you are just done with the pandemic, and the isolation and disorientation that it has wrought in your life. And maybe you are wondering how you can celebrate the hope of Easter in the midst of it all.
You can because Easter does not ask you to ignore any of this. Rather, Easter tells us the good news that we do not go through it alone. Christ is risen. His Spirit is at work in you. And nothing in this world, neither death nor life or things present nor things to come nor height or depth or anything else in all the world can separate us from Christ. The journey is hard, and there are no exemptions from pain, suffering, and death. But, the destination is certain. The battle has already been won. And there is victory on the other side of whatever we are going through. So today, remember to hope. It is a good thing, maybe the best thing.
P.S. This Easter, The Gathering will have a powerful online worship experience. The music will be incredible, the message will be memorable, and most of all, it will be a chance for all of us to remember and celebrate the hope that comes with Christ’s resurrection. Since it is online, you can invite anyone, anywhere to join you. All the details are here, so please check it out and share them. Then, on April 11th we will relaunch in-person worship at all of our sites. Registration will be required, and all the details about our in person return are here. This weekend, I will continue our series Testify and talk about the character of Barabbas and what he represents. You can check out the story here. Have a great Friday, and I will see you for worship!

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