Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. [I Peter 3.15-16]
The Easter hope is not only one which announces the wonder of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it is a hope which proclaims an entirely new creation. Death is no longer the last word; we have value measured in God’s act to save all of us.
This is the hope which empowered the community to which Peter writes; as slaves and persecuted people, justice was often far from them. Who will harm them, asks Peter rhetorically, if they do what is good? He knows the answer, as we do. Unjust masters. A crippled system of governance.
Only a hope which transcends their lives sustained their lives, as it does at this moment for persecuted people in China, the Middle East and South America, as it has for Jesus’ disciples throughout history.
How do we bear witness to this hope, in our own community, with gentleness and reverence? It’s easy to have scripted answers, or formulae. However, to give an account of why we hope, of what sustains us, is neither learnt by rote nor borrowed entirely from another.
We build relationships which create time to talk and listen, to care and to give a full account of why Jesus’ death and rising give us hope for this life and for the one which awaits us. We are gentle because we care for those with whom we speak; their worth is declared in the same breath as ours.
Our story is bound entirely – and wonderfully – in the action of God in Jesus; Jesus’ resurrection declares that injustice, vengeance, illness and death are not the final words, whatever our life is like now.
Our hope is life, and healing and justice, because of Jesus Christ.
And how shall we tell that story, but with the hope and joy with which it is given to us?