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Hopeful and steadfast

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”—Isaiah 25:6-9

On a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane outside of Jerusalem, while looking upward at the gates to the city of Jerusalem, my pilgrimage group entered a section of the garden to pray.

Our group shared this space with 33 miners that had been rescued during the 2010 Chilean mining accident. We were there beside these people of faith who spent two months trapped underground, unsure of whether or not they would be rescued, yet remaining hopeful and steadfast.

It moved me to know that I was sharing space with people from so many different walks of life; people who brought with them so many different causes for celebration or concern.

For in this very place where Jesus prayed, not for his own will, but for God’s will to be done—in this place of prayer and peace—we prayed.

These miners, crammed like the canned fish that first sustained them in a space the size of a two-person dormitory apartment—538 square feet—had defied the odds and showed the world that there is hope even when the worst seems certain.

Indeed, their survival was born of strength and patience as well as a resilience that God instilled in them.

For two years running, the lives of South Carolinians have been crammed into the midst of pandemic, unrest and divisiveness that has wreaked havoc on our lives and communities.

It has taken a toll on us both literally and emotionally. Our routines were disrupted and we legitimately have feared for our health and for the well-being of our loved ones.

Yet, just as those miners emerged from the depths of the earth, in many ways, we are beginning to emerge from the darkness and depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even while it is still dark, we rejoice in Easter’s simple, but glorious, message that Jesus lives!

We celebrate our Risen Savior on Easter Sunday, that day when everything changed. That day that Christ emerged from the darkness of death into the light of life everlasting.

While it is still dark, we recognize that the hope of the resurrection is that the world is not just where Jesus died, but this world is where Jesus lives!

The power that raised Jesus from the dead can raise us up from despair, disillusionment, defeat, pandemic and all of its ramifications. We proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The one who wipes away the tears from all faces, the one for whom we have waited.

In our drive to keep our churches current and relevant in this modern day, let us acknowledge and remember that we share space with generations of saints who have paved the way, paid the bills and kept the church doors open so that “while we breathe, we hope.”

As we celebrate in this Easter season, may we remain steadfast in our faith and lean with hope and gladness into the God-inspired future that is emerging.

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