Since my early childhood days, my Dad was the leader and played in a musical band. They would play on weekends in the St. Joseph/Kansas City area and nearby towns. When Dad would be ready to leave on a Saturday afternoon, he would tell us, “I’ll be home when you get up in the morning.” We didn’t like it when he left, but his message of hope that he would return left us with great anticipation.
I remember getting up early the next morning and going downstairs, seeing his coat hung on the chair and having Dad’s distinct smell. And most of the time, there was a small gift of some sort waiting for each of us. What a wonderful feeling it was that our dad was home.
Later that year, the band received a big contract to travel and play all over the United States. They were asked to quit their jobs because this would require them to be on the road “full time.” The first time they left to play, they were going to be away from home for two months. Our father, our provider and protector was leaving. And not just for a night. Dad said that he would be home soon. This time waking up and running downstairs, I noticed that his coat was not on the chair. The paper was still rolled up, where was Dad? I remember wandering around the house feeling alone and abandoned.
Each week, we looked forward to getting a letter from dad, and mom would read those letters to us. Mine would read, “Dear Richie, how are you doing in school? Study hard and mind your mother. I’ll be home soon. Love, Dad.” These letters gave us hope and established a sense of trust in us that Dad was coming home, just as he had promised. But I would have given anything for him to walk through our front door just to see him.
In some way or another I am sure that many of us have had the experience of being separated from the ones we love. It can be a trying and difficult experience. During the time after the death of Jesus, the apostles and followers of Jesus were left feeling alone and abandoned. Their teacher and provider had been taken away. They had to wait in anticipation for what Jesus had promised them, that He would rise on the third day. . Death does not have the final say as we hear in one of our memorial acclamations, that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
Each year during Lent, we are blessed to enter into our Lord’s passion and death, only to anticipate and rejoice in His resurrection. Our provider, our teacher, our Savior gives us this message of hope. Just as my mother gave us hope by reading our fatherâ€™s letters to us, we also listen to a message of hope as we hear the words of the gospel writers. It is our way of holding fast to the promise that Jesus has given us.
In the midst of the turmoil in our world, our church, and what we may have experienced in our homes, we need these words of hope. We are encouraged to put our complete trust in our Lord, who takes away our pain, sorrow, and sufferings of each day. And each year as we have waited for this glorious day of our Lord’s resurrection, we hold to the truth that He has conquered sin and death. No one else offers such a hope, because no one else has risen from the dead to be able to offer it – only the Lord. It is our message of hope that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”
Reverend Richard Rocha