13 Apr Unrelenting Hope
My emotions have been all over the place lately. On Monday I received my second vaccine shot, and I was flooded with relief, gratitude, and joy. It feels like I just won a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, and I am counting down the days until the vaccine is at full potency and I can eat at a restaurant, something I haven’t done in over a year. The anticipation of that little slice of normalcy is putting a bounce in my step.
But I’d barely gotten home before hearing of another school shooting, this one in Knoxville, Tennessee. The headlines lately have been tragic, heartbreaking, and demoralizing. Another deadly clash with police. Racist attacks on Asian Americans. Suicides. Deaths due to Covid continue, and now case rates appear to be on the rise again. There is always more than enough pain and grief to go around.
One of the gifts that we as Christians offer the world is hope. Despite all the suffering and the problems so vast in scope that a solution seems impossible, the Church stands rooted in the hope of Easter. We proclaim, against all odds, that Christ is alive and that the same power that raised Christ from the dead has been unleashed and is at work in our lives and in our world. And because that kind of eternal, unquenchable, unrelenting power is at work, hope is the most sane and reasonable response we can have to the problems we encounter every day.
When I speak of hope, I am not referring primarily to an emotion or feeling. Christian hope is all about rolling up our sleeves and working with the Spirit of God to alleviate suffering, offer comfort, be reconcilers and peacemakers, and use our gifts and skills to be problem-solvers. We can’t fix every issue, of course, but we can make life better for someone else. Every act of love, compassion, and kindness is a declaration that the forces of violence and hatred will not have the final word. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the most effective weapon against darkness is not to rail against it. It is simply to turn on the light—and we are that light.
Turning on the light today means naming racism against our Asian American brothers and sisters for what it is. It is ugly, it is evil, and it is as unacceptable as racism always is, no matter its form or target. Let me be unequivocally clear: as the church who belongs to the risen Christ, we denounce racism. We denounce the actions of those who perpetrate violence against others, whether that violence is found in homes, schools, or streets. We denounce attitudes that demean other human beings. Every person is created by God and in the image of God which means our call, our command is to love every person. We can leave the judgment to God, which is a great relief since we cannot possibly know what is going on in another person’s heart.
As we love, we embody hope. Love is a declaration that no person and no situation is hopeless because there is no greater force than God’s redeeming love. We do not and cannot fully understand the truth of that statement in this lifetime. But we can proclaim it with our words and our actions all the same. Friends, you are the blessed recipient of a precious gift! Share the hope of Easter today!
Christ is alive!