Reflection by David Anderson (Director – Brooksdale Environmental Centre)

This year as the A Rocha team approaches Easter, we do so with a deepened sense of how real and tangible hope can be. Many grow up in faith contexts where heaven, resurrection and hope are oft referenced, but intangible, truths that remain distant.

David Anderson

This is at odds with our experience of Jesus who is anything but intangible: washing feet, laughing with children, touching lepers, suffering a crucifixion, breaking bread with scarred hands made whole. The divide between an approachable Jesus and the distance of heaven can seem vast.

The deaths this year in our community of Rob Des Cotes and Thea Anderson, a beloved mentor and an exuberant child, have caused the reality of heaven and the grace of hope to be experienced in transformative ways.

Rob and Ruth Des Cotes

Rob bid farewell to many with a wry, joyful grin and the refrain, ‘see you at the feast’. Facing death, he reminded us of a hope more powerful than the pain of death’s loss.

Death is not the last word. God is at work in Christ, reconciling heaven and earth, redeeming creation even out of death. The last word belongs to the Creator, and the image of a joy filled feast in community is a biblical image for the hope that lies ahead.

Hope is akin to air and water: it is essential for life and it varies in quality. One discerns quickly on an oncology ward the difference between vacuous optimism, and rooted hope.

At Thea’s funeral and since I’ve been asked repeatedly how we have hope, and even joy, amidst our pain and loss? In A Rocha’s work, we’re often asked by those who care about people and places how we have hope in the face of seeming indifference and suffering creation? The answer to both is the same.

True hope, with the quality to transform and change our experience in the here and now, is rooted in the character and action of God. The God revealed in Jesus is One to whom I can open my life (the gratitude and the pain), and in so do I experience hope, the presence of God’s Spirit.

The answer of how to find hope is relational, not abstract. Because God loves, saves and is in the business of transforming and reconciling all things, I have hope. Because the story of Jesus is one where suffering and pain is redeemed, and eclipsed by joy; I have hope that the suffering and pain we experience and creation experiences (Romans 8) will be made whole.

Sun Rise Through Trees

Easter proclaims that hope rooted in Jesus will emerge victorious, even if all indicators seem to indicate otherwise on Good Friday. We’re given opportunity to witness to what we know is true of God. We plant a tree in the face of climate change. We care for others, even if they are not caring in return.

We dare to do so, because of who God is. We hope for a day when all shall be reconciled between heaven and earth, where we are reunited with those that have gone before us and tears of sorrow turn to shouts of joy.