In recent days I’ve been appreciating the sun rising earlier and setting later giving us the longer days. As well as that the snowdrops and crocuses are in full bloom and it looks as though it won’t be long before the daffodils begin to bloom. There are one of two other plants that are growing in the manse gardens but until the flowers come through we have no idea what they are. Until then Ken and I will be curious to know what lies beneath the soil. Spring must now be on its way although it is another month before the clocks go forward.
I’m writing this on Ash Wednesday so Lent has just started. If anyone has given something up for Lent I hope you haven’t succumbed already unless you are reading this on Sunday as Sunday is a feast day so shouldn’t be a fast day. More recently instead of giving something up we are encouraged to take something up. Years ago Anneka Rice was the star of Challenge Anneka in which she had a set amount of time to complete a set challenge. (I think I heard 4 episodes were reprised last year). This last week a friend of mine on Facebook has been completing a challenge and each day she has challenged someone to also take on the challenge. Their challenges were to find things that give them joy and to post a picture of it on Facebook.
On 24th February we mark a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Many of us may have expected that a country the size of Russia would soon have succeeded in taking the disputed territory but the Ukrainians have surprised many people with their resilience. We shall also be remembering that it is approximately 4 weeks since the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and there have been more in the last few days.
With all this going on where is the hope that people need? Last week I was at Beech Hill School leading the assemblies and explored the theme of hope, showing pictures of the crocuses and snowdrops as well as pictures of the rescue workers at the scene of the earthquake that they may have seen on the news but also of the little boy who had been rescued and although he was in hospital he was playing with a toy car and of a family that had been reunited. There is hope and joy all around us it just sometimes needs to be pointed out to us.
We all have times of darkness but the God who created the world ensures that somewhere in the world the light is dawning, a new day, a new life is beginning which offers hope. We know the hope that is offered through the resurrection of Jesus, a hope that is available to all if they wish to accept him into their lives.
There are many people who are full of hope that after a long wait Newcastle United will win a trophy on Sunday (26th February). Whether that is achieved is down to human endeavour. The result will either lead to a time of rejoicing or a time of disappointment. When we put our hope in God it will always end in a time of rejoicing. So, just as my friend on Facebook and Anneka Rice attempted the challenges that they were given, this Lent rather than give something up I challenge you all to find some hope in each new day and highlight it to others in whatever way you can.
‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15 v13.