Each week I take times of collective worship or assemblies at three church schools in which we share Christian values, sing a hymn and say prayers. This is one of the very best parts of my job. It is such a privilege for me to be able to speak into these young lives. I have been encouraging them this week to be hopeful people, as hope is such an important part of life. If we have hope we have a greater chance of being resilient and positive. If we lose hope then we will often sink into darkness and despair.
In explaining hope to the children I suggested that hope was holding onto something that you do not already have. That sounds a bit difficult and it could be a skill that we all need to practice. Hope is something that we can have in both our hearts and our heads. When the rational reasons for hope run out there is still the possibility of hanging on to hope even when all seems lost.
Many of our greatest stories are stories of hope. The most celebrated victories of history have been victories of hope. Even those unexpected wins in the political arena that we have seen recently have been fuelled by hope. Having hope changes the landscape of what we can achieve and often brings out the very best of humanity. We find plenty of fuel for hope in this season of spring. As the days lengthen and the weather warms up we have the prospect of the summer before us. Daffodils and primroses are heralds of this hope confirmed by the arrival of the first swallow or the sound of a cuckoo calling.
Using our imaginations to be positive about the future has a profound impact on our health and wellbeing. It protects us from stress and makes us more open to what each day might offer. This may be one reason why having an active Christian faith has been shown to increase life expectancy. Having hope is good for us. But we need to have hope in those things that will bring us life. We need hope for each day that gets out of bed in the morning as well as hope for the future that we all have a destiny that makes sense of the life that we lead.
As we approach Easter we find perhaps the greatest story and the most amazing victory of hope that the world has ever witnessed. One man took on everything that was evil and against all expectations, in the power of God, he was able to triumph over death itself. This is why the day that he died will always be called Good Friday. For we have a sure and certain hope that Easter Sunday is coming. In him the hope of all humanity finds its focus. In him we have a hope that will hold us whatever we face.
May we all be filled with the hope of heaven this Easter, Neil