By Rev. Dottie Hutch

And the social distancing continues…. How are you feeling today? Maybe disoriented, worried, angry, lonely…or, like me, a combination of all of the above?

As the country went into sheltering in place two weeks after Ash Wednesday, I kept busy adapting to hand sanitizer and masks. Then, before I knew it, we were in Holy Week. On Holy Thursday I felt the need to slow down and ponder. For the umpteenth time in my life I read the Matthew story of Jesus’ Passion: his betrayal, arrest, trial, the crown of thorns…

I stopped and re-read those words: “They twisted some thorns into a crown” “They”, who wanted to hurt Jesus. “They” twisted the thorns … Suddenly I realized that, in doing so, “they” themselves must have been literally bloodied by the task.

How often I wondered, have “I” become “they” and hurt Jesus with my actions? How often have I hurt myself when I hurt another person? I felt the burden of all those hurts. I continued to ponder.

Two days later I went for a walk, head down, pondering the hurts I’d given and received. Then, I looked up from the sidewalk and saw the word “Hope” written in letters 4 to 5 feet tall. It was not my imagination; there was a real sign in front of me. I stopped. That was, and is, the message of the Resurrection, I thought. I could feel my burden lessen. Hope is the word we need to hear in times of distress.

But we’re not talking about a superficial hope of a short-term improvement in our life. We’re talking about the mystical Hope (with a capital “H”) that lives in our souls; the Hope that may be partially hidden; the Hope that comes from a journey of prayer and from traveling the hills and valleys of life. As Christians, our goal in life is to arrive at this inner Mystical Hope that is the basis of our faith.

May you use this time of quiet that we’ve been given to ponder and to pray, to go deeper into our center of being and go deeper in our relationship with God. May we each discover that Christ is our Hope, and this Mystical Hope will allow us to face an unknown future with grace, and strength, and joy, knowing that, with Christ, all will be well.

Please join me in prayer:

Gracious God, lead us from death to life,
from fear to trust,
from despair to Hope,
and may Hope fill our hearts and our world.
We pray this through Him who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.