The power of hope

Published April 4, 2024

By Lib Campbell

The preacher’s shadowed silhouette contrasted with the sun rising over the river in the east. The first red blush. Then rising, rising, until light flooded the park where the worshipers sat. Scripture rang out from the gospel of John. “Woman, why are you weeping?” The preacher, whose face was in sunlight now, went off into a great telling of the hope of resurrection in which we live. Hope is the precious gift of Easter. Even when we think all our plans and expectations have died, hope enters to raise us up from the pit of despair. 
The sunrise worship of Easter has always been my favorite service. When I was growing up, the Easter sunrise service was in the Ayden Cemetary. Daddy and I would go, mostly because we were the early risers. When Daddy died on Good Friday in 1990, Easter in Ayden was rainy. Sunrise was held inside the dry and warmth of the church. His funeral was on Easter Monday. Since that time, resurrection has had such deep meaning, faith planted firmly in a belief that death is not the end. Rather it is the entry into life eternal with God. 
But hope can be slippery. When the weight of the world seems tilted to a side intent on destroying the very values on which my faith and this country are built, I pause. I see a faith espoused that looks nothing like the faith I have nurtured and grown my whole life. The faith I have is knowing that all persons are of sacred worth, that all God’s people are equal in God’s eyes, and that justice, mercy, and freedom are God given rights. 
My study of the Judeo-Christian faith, along with study of world religions, has opened me up to a world that wants to know God, that seeks a higher divine power. Nowhere in my study, my ministry, or my faith is Jesus wrapped in an American flag. America does not own Jesus. 
It is easy to lose hope when people in high places – in politics and the church – remain silent as the Republican candidate for the Presidency wraps himself in the flag, hawks a Bible that has been corrupted and state and religion overlap. Holy Cow! It’s even the King Jimmy translation. Probably has all the words of Jesus AND Lee Greenwood written in red. And people ask, why are we weeping? 
Haven’t we seen the way David Koresh and Jim Jones claimed their spot as the savior? And people died following them. This is a dangerous place for us to be as Americans, and as people of faith. Donald Trump may be the cult leader, but he is not the savior. God bless him in his delusion. 
Easter hope calls us to the awakening we need to right this ship before it falls off the cliff. The good news of resurrection faith beckons us to renewed resolve to speak good news. To welcome the stranger. To care for the poor and the suffering. It is not good news to promise revenge and retribution on perceived enemies. Surely, we can tell good news from the hateful rhetoric of a deranged former president.
As the sun rose over the Neuse River, the choir sang, “Because He Lives.” People wept in joyful recognition that without the example Christ has given for how we are to live in right relationship with God and one another, we would be lost. Somebody needs a dose of holy boldness to call out the baloney of a lot that is going on around us and find a voice to speak truth into this situation that threatens, not only our religion, but our country. 
Who is up to this work? I hope we all are. 
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite She can be contacted at