“I am the good shepherd.”  
– John 10:11

As I write this, news, social media feeds, Facebook memories are popping with reminders that four years ago we went into lock down for COVID. And I can feel your eyes rolling from here! Not more about that gosh darn pandemic!

But, wait!

We can mine these reminders of “what happened when” for usefulness. It is a way of making sense of our experiences. Redeeming them, even.

For example: hope.

Four years ago, we were hungry for hope and found glimmers in our online gatherings, in member caring for member, in your tremendous support of staff, and an outpouring of financial generosity. It was a horrible and holy time as we navigated the unfamiliar by finding comfort in familiar practices like communion and prayer. We found hope.

Today we are just as hungry for hope. Wise leaders have called the climate an existential crisis. Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan. A difficult election season ahead. White Christian nationalism distorting the message of “Jesusian” love and compassion. Where will we find hope?

Will we find a false hope that denies reality or a true hope that accounts for the facts on the ground?

Do we hope for resuscitation, which is an old life coming back? Or do we hope in resurrection, a new life on completely different terms?

What shared practices point to hope?

During worldwide confusion or in the aftermath of loss, we find hope in God’s abiding presence and in new ways to be community and care for one another. Somehow, the sun rises, babies are born, crab apple trees flower, ideas form. Inexplicably, we discover that there is life after. Different, confusing even, but real and possible. We find unexpected sources of courage and a stubborn core of hope.

The resurrection promise of Jesus doesn’t just offer us a glimmer of a far distant future. The resurrection promise is real for us in this lifetime. Easter is the resurrection of hope, the awakening of hope. Resurrection takes up the broken pieces of our lives and reshapes them into something both brand new and somehow familiar. It is the revelation of what is and what can be.

On that long ago Easter morning, we were caught up in something brand new and somehow familiar. God is still God. But death no longer has the final word. Evil will not win. And we are invited into beloved discipleship in resurrection life, resilient with hope.

Our risen God shepherds us through this new life, pointing out the signposts of hope along the way: baptism, communion, sharing our grief, praying together, the commendation of our saints.

There is a reason we call the other 51 Sundays each year “Little Easters.” Weekly we gather to practice the awakening of hope and celebrate life renewed.

May this Easter season reawaken hope in your lives and our shared life together.

Christ is Risen! Alleluia.

Pastor Chris