No More Lost Causes
There is always hope
by Brian Radcliffe (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the implications of the Easter resurrection story.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and four readers.
Leader: We sometimes speak of a situation being a lost cause. What do we mean by that? Here are a few examples.
Reader 1: I’ll never get on that course I wanted to start. The deadline for applications was yesterday and I totally forgot to post mine. It’s lying on the table at home with a first-class stamp on the envelope. But it’s no good there. It should be at the college. I’ll have to wait a whole year for another opportunity. It’s a lost cause.
Reader 2: This plant is never going to flower again. I left it on the windowsill while I was on holiday and the sun dried it up. The leaves are brown and the soil is like dust. I used to love its flowers, but it might as well be thrown on the compost heap. It’s a lost cause.
Reader 3: With two minutes of extra time to go, we’re two-nil down in the final. They’ve got us penned back in our own penalty area and it’s surprising we’ve not conceded a third or even a fourth goal. We can never win now. It’s a lost cause.
Reader 4: He’s never going to trust me again. Just when he needed me to stick up for him, to give him my support, I sloped off. I’ve let him down big time. We’ll never be friends again. It’s a lost cause.
Leader: You get the idea? It felt rather like that to Jesus’ friends and followers at the end of that Friday when he was executed on a cross by the Romans. It was a while before he died, but when he gave his final cry, it was obvious it was over. All those hopes of the good times to come - the new kingdom that Jesus had promised, the end of Roman oppression, God triumphing over evil - they were all gone forever. Just another lost cause. It’s no wonder Jesus’ friends and followers slipped away quietly to hide somewhere safe. The Romans might be after them next.
Except . . . except that’s what makes the Easter story so significantly different. Two days later, all trace of the battered, bloodstained body had disappeared from the tomb in which it had been buried soon after Jesus’ death. Not only that, the living, walking, talking Jesus actually appeared again to every one of those friends and followers. The person they’d seen die on the cross had somehow been raised back to life.
Not only had the lost cause been won, but Jesus promised that this was only the beginning. His victory over death meant that there was to be a new world order in which all he’d talked about was going to be possible. From that first Easter Sunday, there was to be no such thing as a lost cause. For 2,000 years Christians have believed in the power of the risen Jesus Christ. They claim that hope, healing, freedom and reconciliation have been evidenced right across the world.
The resurrection of Jesus on that first Easter Sunday morning is, for Christians, symbolic of the power of God to bring good out of apparently hopeless situations. Let’s reimagine those situations that we heard before.
Reader 1: I sent in the application form anyway. It turns out that they were so impressed with what I’d written that they want to offer me a place on the course. Naturally, I’ve learned my lesson, though. I won’t forget to post an important letter again.
Reader 2: I carefully removed all the brown leaves from my plant, and gave it new soil and plenty of water. This morning, I discovered a new, green shoot.
Reader 3: I think you can guess what happened. If not, ask any supporter of the opposing team. What a comeback!
Reader 4: Sorry was all it took. That word helps to repair so many broken relationships. Neither of us wanted it to end.
Time for reflection
Spend a moment considering the following thoughts. You may wish to turn them into a prayer.
- Be thankful for hopeless situations in your life that have been saved unexpectedly.
- Be sorry for the damage that you’ve knowingly or unknowingly done to the relationships that you’ve lost.
- Make a plan to take some action that arises out of today’s assembly. It may surprise you what might happen.
- Christians believe that we can always ask God to help in a hopeless situation - it might be worth a try!
Thank you for the hope that we find in the Easter story.
Thank you that no one is a lost cause.
Thank you for forgiveness.
Thank you for friends.
May we always see the importance of those around us and always seek reconciliation.
‘Don’t worry, be happy’ by Bobby McFerrin, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU (4.03 minutes long)