What brings you hope? How do you bring hope?
I grew up with Easter sunrise services overlooking the ocean, breakfast with hot cross buns and bacon, church, and then the best (seriously) egg hunt. From sunrise until sugar coma, Easter was a day when I tasted hope. But Easter was a one-day event, and Monday brought the usual mixture of wanting — but not experiencing or offering — extraordinary hope.
Two years ago on this Easter day, an article ran in CNN that described a woman who, “by Easter Sunday had been alone for 38 consecutive days.” The reporter continued, “This is a brief story about…what it means to help each other and the…ideals that stand in our way.” Ideals like:
Independence. Perfection. Self-Sufficiency. Optimism. Denial.
All of these I have looked to for hope. And all of these, I have looked to “drum up” bringing hope:
Motivational Talks. Big Plans. Accountability. Prioritizing. Task Lists.
None of this gave, or allowed me to give, hope. They led to self-efforts that rang tinny, metallic, with sharp edges. Not hope — soft, warm, and human-like.
So how do you find and bring hope?
I walked a long road from my childhood sunrise services to the 2020 sunrise service CNN mentions. It mostly wound downward, from being with my 50-plus-person extended family to almost alone. From feeling the breeze on my face as the sun rose over the ocean to blinking at my laptop’s blue glare, I watched an online sunrise service with exactly zero people attending.
But all of these Easters and Easters going back for centuries gave hope through one thing: the risen Christ, the Word of Life.
Most Easter sunrise services close with “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!” When that song came, I knew the celebration had begun! The lyrics are based on four Bible verses (Matthew 28:6, 1 Peter 3:18, Revelation 1:17-18), as well as Acts 2:32, God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.
Since the 14th Century, when an anonymous writer penned this song, its Bible-based lyrics have brought and inspired people to bring hope. And to think…this song was written in the same century as the Black Death, a global pandemic that killed 10X as many people as COVID.
Imagine. This song ringing out with hope words to people affected by the world’s worst plague. Amidst a decimation of the population by bodily death, enduring life arose in hearers’ souls.
This song, citing Scripture, points to the source of hope:
Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heav’nly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!
Every Easter, and I mean EVERY Easter, the risen Jesus brings and empowers us to bring hope.
Easter 2020 felt alienating. As the CNN article states, our self-reliant independence blocks hope. I had felt frustrated that spring, having tried to love my neighbors as the pandemic descended upon us but got no response. Words from the risen Christ inspired me to try yet again, to offer to bring my neighbor groceries, to deliver a pineapple and some oranges to her snow-laden door. When that small act of Jesus’ words empowering me to be His witness reached millions of readers, it was as if God winked, saying, “See? I told you so. Just listen to My words and believe I have the power to raise you and work through you to raise others to hope.”
Our self-reliant independence blocks hope.
Hope comes not from ourselves but from embracing a risen Jesus. He raises us triumphantly to love others, also to rise.
Are you going to go to a sunrise or other service this year? Let’s lay aside our self-drummed-up ambitions or guilt about sharing hope. Let’s allow the risen Christ to bring us hope, raise us, and work through us to raise others to indestructible hope.
To Discuss and Respond:
What do you sometimes find yourself putting your hope in that doesn’t deliver?
What truth about Jesus having victory over death and destruction do you want to remember?
How can you, this very week, act on Jesus’ words (John 14:12) to be an ambassador for this good news to someone around you?
Join Us in Receiving and Bringing Hope:
This week, you can join a group of others just like you who want to experience and bring Jesus-hope. Our next Relational Evangelism Coaching class starts April 21. Sign up today! https://my.stonecroft.org/the-relational-evangelism-course/