The End of HOPE?

Over the past six weeks we have been focusing on the theme of HOPE, a topic rather appropriate considering our circumstances.  When the series was first proposed, back in March, we had set this coming Sunday, May 31, 2020 as a celebration Sunday.  We anticipated that we would all be back in church by then and we could celebrate our realization of HOPE all together.

In retrospect, one could argue that we were a little overly optimistic, but in fairness at the time things didn’t look as serious as they became.  Now six weeks after the series started we in Brampton are living in a “hot spot” and while others parts of the province are opening up, we are having to continue to restrict activities.

So, does that mean this is the end of HOPE and we just give up?  Does that mean there is nothing to celebrate, even if we can’t be together on Sunday?  I think any reasonable person would say NO to those two questions.  But, the challenge we all face is to remain hopeful in the midst of this unrelenting lock-down and the spread of COVID-19.

Life certainly is no where near back to normal.  This coming Saturday I will be one of 10 people attending my cousin’s graveside service.  It will be short.  There will be no hugs, handshakes or whispered condolences.  Most of our family won’t be able to attend.  My cousin asked me to give her eulogy.  I doubt that will ever happen now.  No, there is very little of the old normal, just the new one, which keeps changing as the impact of the virus keeps changing.

But, if we dwell in the dark and inconvenient places, our souls will fade into darkness.  We will lose sight of the good things that are all around us.  It is easy to slip into depression, or anger, or confusion.  It takes a certain strength of will to resist despair.  We need to view our present circumstances and our future with eyes of HOPE.

So, back to Celebration Sunday.  What have you got to celebrate?  I know that for some of you, you are going to have to think long and hard, but I assure you there are things to celebrate.  When you look back over the past 3 months, what are the things that brought you joy?  Can you see the future with eyes of HOPE?  What are you looking forward to doing, or places to go, or people to see?  Think of the tiny things that you can celebrate.  I rode to work this morning on my motorcycle in shirt sleeves.  I don’t recall a morning in May, in Brampton warm enough to do that.  It was glorious!  (Note: My hard core biker friends ride in January in shirtsleeves, they would just call me a wimp.)

In any circumstance, there is always something appropriate to draw from in the Bible and there are certainly a lot of passages about celebration, but as I was searching for something to illustrate this devotional I came across a passage that I think is probably the most appropriate for this whole situation, not just a celebration Sunday.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Somewhere in the midst of all this upheaval is a time laugh and dance, just as there is a time to weep and mourn.  Don’t lose perspective on the wholeness of what our life truly is, even during a time as restricted as this.

I would be interested in knowing what you will celebrate.  Please let me know.

  • Kevin.

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