Surprised by hope

My wife and I have always been great fans of crime fiction. We love watching TV dramas like “Midsomer Murders” or “Inspector Morse” and we have great fun playing amateur detective (Rule 1. It is nearly always the least suspect who actually did it and rule 2, if someone gets arrested near the beginning it isn’t them). What often strikes me is the pretty locations for these murders. Midsomer victims might die in the most horrible ways, but at least they die in gorgeous flower decked English villages. Mind you, it’s a wonder that anyone ever buys a house there given the crime rate. It’s all rather comforting in a bizarre kind of way.

When murder happens in real life, however, it’s not quite so comforting. Our town had its own murder last month and speaking to people in the days afterwards  the sense of shock was palpable. How could murder happen in a pretty place like Thaxted? People are nice here and live such nice lives. It’s the kind of place where strangers say good morning.

As I reflected on this I thought about the other shocks that hit our lives. The sudden loss of a child. That day in the office when they call you in and say you’re surplus to requirement. The diagnosis of Cancer.  Your lovely son suddenly arrested for a crime. Often one of the reactions is, “but why me”? “I’m a nice person. Why has this happened to me”?

On Good Friday the disciples of Jesus faced a similar shock. Their Lord and master was brutally put to death. He was supposed to be their deliverer. He was supposed to throw out the occupying power and set up a new kingdom. Instead the occupying power killed him. How could this happen to him?  How could it happen to them?  Yet after three agonising days he rose again. Despair was turned to hope. Grief was turned to joy. Christians believe that not only did he rise from the dead, but  one day he will return again to make a new creation. One free from death and pain and suffering, but even now the risen Christ can make a difference if we let him. A man was asked if he believed that Jesus turned water into wine. He replied, “ I don’t know whether he turned water into wine. What I do know is that  he turned betting slips into food and clothes for my wife and kids”. Jesus offers hope and he offers it now.