I do not believe that I am the only one who feels a little hopeless right now.
Members of the news media bombard us with news of the attack on Brussels, the passage of HB 2, ICE raids on undocumented youth and families, hateful political attacks and propaganda, the constant fear of terrorism, the unjust brutality against black and brown lives — the list goes on and on. However, last week Christians across the world celebrated Easter, a day that is meant to give us hope; it is resurrection Sunday! I was reminded of this hope both globally and locally. While the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury led celebrations urging the world not to succumb to darkness, locally at my own First Presbyterian Church in Durham the message was also one of hope conquering fear. The empty tomb of Jesus gives us hope — the hope of forgiveness, the hope of assurance, the hope of peace. As Pope Francis eloquently stated, “”Easter proclaims to us in flesh and blood that fear and death and terror are not the last words. God has spoken life, hope, and purpose.”
One experience during Holy Week that brought me hope was participating in the annual Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace organized by Witness for Peace Southeast. In its thirtieth year, the Pilgrimage is a march across the state of North Carolina calling for just and humane immigration policies, trade that allows for a fair price paid to producers and workers, support for Black Lives Matter, as well as human rights for all. I took part in the events on Thursday in Durham, where we had the opportunity to hear about the barriers facing migrant farmworkers, learn about Durham’s racialized history, stand in solidarity outside of the Durham Detention Center with those who are incarcerated inside, and worship together. On Friday, the week culminated in the Economic Justice Way of the Cross in which we ended the Stations of the Cross by offering signs of hope from the previous year. This reminded me that Easter is about both celebrating the hope that Jesus offers and being reassured that a new life is coming, bringing with it a better tomorrow.
This is my personal and hopeful prayer after Easter for the world:
God of infinite mercy and compassion,
I recognize that we are all created in your image; therefore, help us to recognize the divine in our brothers and sisters and demonstrate your love toward them.
Give us courage to face our fears, strength to conquer the forces that seek to divide us, and mercy to forgive those who have hurt us.
I pray for all of those who have lost loved ones, homes and communities, that they may find the hope to overcome these challenges.
I pray that we can come together, unified by a common desire for peace to believe in a hope for humanity and work together to build a blessed community for all. Amen.