Itís Friday, But . . .
There is always hope
by Brian Radcliffe (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the essential hope that is at the centre of the Easter story.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a copy of one or more recent newspaper.
- Open one of the newspapers and say, ‘Just look at this. More bad news.’
Read two or three news headlines or summarize a story and say, ‘It could make you very depressed.’
Read two or three more news items. ‘It’s as if the world’s going downhill, out of control. Times are bad.’
- Right now, we’re coming up to Easter, a major festival in the Christian year. One of the ironies of the Easter story is that the day on which Jesus was crucified has become known as Good Friday. What’s good about it? It sounds more like the ultimate bad news day.
Think about it from the point of view of those who had spent up to three years with this remarkable man. In a matter of 24 hours, he had been the victim of religious prejudice, corrupt court procedure, torture, public humiliation and death by the slow, painful process of crucifixion. Now, on Friday evening, he was dead. The dream was apparently over. I think we would all agree that it’s pretty bad news!
- How do we cope with bad news? Do we get overwhelmed by the darkness or discouraged by the storm clouds, without any hope for the future? Many people do.
- There is a story told about an American pastor. This man would go through the horrific events of that first Easter Friday and end each event with the phrase, ‘It’s Friday now . . . but Sunday’s a’coming.’
There was the bad news: ‘They beat him and whipped him’, ‘They put a crown of thorns on his head’, ‘They nailed him to a cross’ and ‘He cried out and died.’ But after each Friday moment, the pastor reminded his audience that ‘Sunday’s a’coming.’
Why the reminder of Sunday? Because Easter Sunday is the real heart of the Easter story. All of the bad news is simply the prelude to the resurrection, the good news that God brought Jesus back to life as a sign that the power of evil in our world has been defeated.
- That American pastor was talking as if this message could make a difference to the way we live now, and so it can. You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ and heard people talk about there being ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Both phrases encourage us to take a hopeful approach to life, particularly when bad things happen, as they frequently do.
- The Easter story takes this a step further and encourages us to see a world in which God is ultimately in control, a world in which evil people and evil forces will not prevail in the end. It provides us with something to hold out for when the going gets tough, when we find ourselves in the dark tunnel and when the storm clouds are gathering.
Time for reflection
The Easter story is a message of hope. Hope tells us that we will not be overwhelmed. Hope tells us that the light is always there, even when the tunnel seems never-ending. Hope reminds us that ‘Sunday’ always comes.
Spend a moment considering the following thoughts.
- Are there times when we feel sad and as if we have no hope?
- What can we do if we have these feelings? (Encourage the students to seek out someone they can speak to if they are feeling like this.)
- What do we do if we know people who feel like the world is on their shoulders and who seem sad and depressed? (Encourage the students to speak to someone who can advise them.)
Let’s make a plan to take some action that arises out of today’s assembly. It may be to encourage someone who is depressed. It may be simply to bring a smile to other people’s faces by smiling at them. It may be to grit your teeth and persevere in the face of today’s difficulty.
Thank you that the Easter story is full of hope.
Thank you that light makes a difference to darkness.
Even in the worst of times, help us to see that there is always hope.
‘Beautiful day’ by U2