I once saw a sign I have never forgotten. It read: “People can live weeks without food, days without water, and minutes without air, but they can’t live even a second without hope.” I have often thought about this. Is it true, I wondered? It may not be far off. 

Rev. Dr. Ernest Boyer

According to Dante, the sign over the gate of hell reads: “Abandon all hope you who enter here.” In other words, hell is simply another word for hopelessness. So even if it is possible to live without hope, it will certainly be a miserable existence. And it is true: to be given hope is to be given a whole new life. You live differently as a result. The world opens up. You can see possibilities. You have choices. You can see the road ahead of you and proceed with confidence. People with hope live very differently than those without. They have meaning, purpose, direction. They can move forward, trusting that all will be well in the end. 

That’s why Easter is so important to Christians. Christians around the world will be celebrating Easter this weekend. Easter, the central event of our faith, is all about hope, and we need hope to live. Easter celebrates the fact that Jesus’ followers went through the private hell of watching him die miserably on the cross only to encounter him again three days later as an active force in their lives. The hope that this gave them changed them forever. It left them jubilant, ecstatic, fearless. They would never be the same again, and as their message spread, neither would the world ever be the same. That’s because these early Christians knew that the hope that they had discovered that Easter morning applies to all of us.

Their encounter with the risen Christ left them convinced of three things. Those things are:

1. We are all more than our bodies.

2. Our life is more than our life on earth, and 

3. We are all loved simply for who we are by a Power infinitely beyond ourselves who asks nothing more of us than that we do our very best to love each other in the same way.

These are truths that we often forget, especially now. We live in a time of diminished hope, a time when some people no longer believe in either God or themselves or each other—belief in these three things being intimately intertwined. 

That is why Christians will once again gather this weekend to celebrate Easter. We need to renew our hope. We need it to believe in our own possibilities. We need it to believe in each other. We need it to believe that, whoever we are, we can work to build a future together. We need these things simply to live. 

In the end, everyone needs hope. 

Rev. Dr. Ernest Boyer is the pastor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Gilroy. He is an active member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. 

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