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The Lenten Journey 2019 – Hope Lives!

Title “Hope Lives!”

IMG_20190417_120916-1-1Job 14:1-14 NIV
1“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. Do you fix your eye on them? Will you bring them before you for judgment? Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired laborer. “At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep.“If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come.”

John 19:38-42
38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
In this chapter of Job, the afflicted (Job) indicates that life is not trouble free and that death looms on the horizon for every human, from the day of their birth until death occurs. In his despair he discusses mortality and his bitterness is quite obvious because of the tragedies that affected his life (death of his children, loss of his property, ill health etc.). Some might even declare that Job was in a “dark place” as a result of experiencing so many tragedies.
After all of these tragic losses, can anyone blame this once, “blameless and upright” man, who now seems to give up on life, because he believes that life has given up on him, so the only recourse is to look forward to death? For Job, hope ceases to exist after death, or death puts an end to hope, however, for believers, the death of Christ brings hope.

The tragedy of Jesus’ death did not put an end to the hope of Joseph and Nicodemus, instead it moved them from being private disciples to public disciples. The men boldly took the risk to request the body of their Messiah and at great expense, prepare the body for proper burial, these two actions were public displays of their belief in Jesus Christ. Hope in Jesus will pull us from the shadows, to overcome life’s tragedies, so that we can become public disciples and impact the lives of others.
The Gospel of John in the stated pericope, reveals love, and care of Jesus by two individuals who were not considered part of Jesus’ entourage, and were not publicly active in Jesus’ ministry. Joseph and Nicodemus were not one of the twelve disciples, nor were they part of the 72 others that Jesus sent out to spread the Gospel. Nevertheless, Joseph and Nicodemus stepped up at a crucial part of Jesus’ ministry, offering a proper burial when all others had departed at Jesus’ death. Oftentimes, one cannot depend on those who offer public support, or endorsement because they might not be there or willing to be supportive in tragic situations.

Tragedies such as death, illness, or heartbreak, cause people to be bitter and to lose hope in God, themselves and others. The entire period of Lent offers not only a chance for personal introspection, but it also offers time to reflect on the hope that is “built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” As you sit in the darkness of “Holy Saturday,” remember hope in Jesus, although unknown to Job, is known to those who believe in the reason for Lent and in the period that follows Lent.

Points to ponder:
(1) Tragic circumstances should be expected, but should not result in despair, or loss of hope.
(3) The death of Jesus Christ offers believers new hope as they become public disciples.

Prayer: God remind us that You are still with us even in our darkest periods of life, and even when death is on the horizon. Remind us that hope lives despite any tragedies that we might encounter in life. Steer us through any period of darkness, and prepare us to celebrate the new hope and life on the horizon. Peace!

Pastor Velma E. Grant, M.Div., Th.M.
Payton A.M.E. Church, Valdosta, Georgia
Instagram – @revpreacher
Facebook – @Joy Velma Grant
Twitter – @RevVelma
Email – vegrant1@gmail.com

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Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie 



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