My second placement in ministry in Canada was at Hope United Church in Hope, British Columbia, a small town at the edge of the Fraser Valley just 150kms east of Vancouver. It was a beautiful town. The town was surrounded by mountains, and three rivers met near the community. For Canada, we enjoyed mild weather. You had the best of small town life, with larger communities just half an hour a way.
There was one problem with living in that community. Brian tells the story of when we first met, he asked me where I lived, and I said I lived in Hope. He went on to ask me, "Well what does one do in Hope?" We still laugh about this to this day. What does one do when you live in Hope?
But don't we all really live in hope. This past weekend we celebrated Easter, a day full of hope. Traditional theology has often held that with the death of Christ on the cross, we have been given the gift of eternal life. Each individual life has meaning. With Christ being risen from the dead, it meant that all of us are worthy of God's love- the wrongs of the past are forgiven- the world has been forever changed. Alleluia.
The world right now is in need of hope. We live in a world where we increasingly fear the other. We live in a world where some politicians are stirring up feelings of hatred to those who are not quite like us. The threat of nuclear war is in the air as one bombastic president is threatening another bombastic president. We see the devastation of climate change slowly affecting our world. We watch helplessly as the number of refugees continues to climb, yet governments are unwilling to open doors to others for fear of appearing weak. And we know that so many people live in abject poverty while the few very rich get richer and richer. Our world is in desperate need of hope.
The church's role in all this is to share the good news of the gospel. God loves each one of us because of who we are. Everyone in the world is God's children. No one is outside the realm of God's love. The church needs to denounce the campaign of fear that many of our politicians are using as election ploys. Easter happened to show that all men and women of the world might know that they are welcomed, loved, valued, and respected. And if all people felt that valued, I am sure there would be fewer wars, less injustice, less fear. Hallelujah and blessings.