I have been thinking about hope a lot this week. This is Holy Week. I asked my Sunday school friends to try to experience the whole week as a sequence of events and emotions. It starts with great expectation on Palm Sunday. It continues with teaching, preaching, and reforms in the early part of the week. It deepens on Thursday with the service of humble foot washing, the giving of a new dual commandment: Love God with All Your Heart –AND– Love One Another. This is the height of spiritual teaching. Then Thursday takes a drastic turn as Jesus begins the preparation for the cross by saying goodbye, praying in the garden, and drinking the cup. Friday begins with early morning betrayal, the chaotic questioning by the political leaders, mocking, and beating. Then finally in the afternoon, Jesus dies. All of nature cries out in anguish: black clouds roll, thunder peals, the curtain of the temple tears. Saturday is a day the church suffers without it’s head, for Jesus is separated form the Father and descends into hell. And we would all stay in the lost, lonely and dark state but for one thing.
Hope is all that can get you through this. “But Sunday’s coming!” is the cry of encouragement from my former pastor and friend. No matter how deep the dispair, “Sunday’s coming.” And on Sunday, the Lord is risen, we are blessed and assured that the Father, Son, and Holy ghost are one, and they pour love down us afresh and cover us with grace.
I think the life of a young person who lives on the street might be like Holy Week. I don’t know if all their lives started out with joyful entry, but I think they usually do. Even if the home life is troubled from the start, I think they enter into it with the innocence of children. And in many cases, home life wasn’t always difficult.
Recently several separate youth revealed to me that they had a grandparent or a special person who held everything together for a family. Some even mention grandparents who guided the family toward God. But once they were gone, the family lost it’s way and many turned away from God.
At some point, questioning and debate and argument broke out into the life of the youth. Maybe they sought a different life and headed for the street. Maybe they just found a different home life right there at home as things fell apart for the family. And at some point, the innocence of youth turned into something else. They may have been beaten, abandoned, abused. They may have begun to abuse themselves and use substances.
“But Sunday is coming.” Jesus has something for these youth that can and will change everything. It turns mourning into dancing. It turns night into day. The grace of God, received afresh, gives us the power to transform and be transformed in every way.
“Sunday is coming.” Hope can spring afresh for these youth. But we must wait. We must be vigilant. We must stand ready to spread the word that the tomb is empty. Jesus has conquered sin and death, and he loves *you* and will help turn your deepest despair, deepest problems, deepest shame into loving God and loving others.
“Sunday IS coming.” Look for it. Count on it.