There is hope, and then there is hope. Hope of the first variety happens all the time. Consider some examples—I hope I get an A on this paper; I hope that movie comes to Fayetteville; I hope the pastor’s sermon isn’t long or boring. These are the kinds of things we hope for on a daily basis, and often (though not always) our hopes are fulfilled.
Hope of the second variety is hope against hope (Romans 4:18), or, as Paul accents it again in Romans, “Hope for what we do not see” (8:25). This second kind of hope is, paradoxically, the kind of hope that is so close to hopelessness that it, and only it, is truly hopeful. This is the hope of glory, hope for righteousness, hope that makes bold, hope laid up in heaven, hope of salvation, hope that grounds our calling, hope set on the living God, promised hope, blessed hope, hope grounded completely and utterly in Jesus Christ, the one raised from the dead by God (Acts 2:32). This is hope so big you can’t get your head around it, and so full your heart can’t decide whether to pound or skip.
And somehow, some way, during Holy Week Christian communities the world over are called to find a way to proclaim in words and songs and prayers the hope that is in them as they remember Christ’s tragic death on a cross, and his glorious resurrection come Sunday morning. I know I’ll be trying my level best as a preacher to share some of the glory and terror and awe of it all, and I pray God’s Spirit will do the rest.
My prayer for our entire congregation this Holy Week is that we might be inspired and enlivened by hope. I hope the hope of the gospel makes you feel totally and truly alive!
I also pray that together we might be challenged to push out from what we think we know about the resurrection, and into territory that will make us more faithful and authentic Christian people. For example, one of my favorite theologians has written, in his recent book Sun of Righteousness, Arise, "The hope for the resurrection of the dead is not an answer to the human yearning for immortality; it is a response to the hunger for [God's] righteousness and justice." (Jürgen Moltmann) What does it mean for us to hope for God’s righteousness and justice, and not for our own immortality? Is it, at the very least, hope against hope? From my perspective, it clarifies precisely why and how Easter is more important and bigger than we first imagine!
So I hope this letter finds you well. This is one of those weeks that challenges and inspires me as a pastor, and reminds me that we do not travel this journey through Lent and Holy Week alone. We walk in hope, together, as we anticipate celebrating the hope of Easter and resurrection. Thank you for being the hopeful people you are, connecting others to God through the hope-filled gospel of Christ.
“I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face” (3 John 14)
Pastor Clint Schnekloth +