Hope belongs to the world of belief; it has direction and a future. Atheism, in contrast, and by definition, has only chaos, and therefore neither. We, all of us, depend on hope, live our lives in hope, even as we rest in the moment. But hope disappointed can be shattering, destructive, devastating. It can ruin a soul and lead to utter darkness. It is the place of hell.
So how do we choose what to hope for? How do we know who or what to trust and believe in? A topical question in a world of ‘fake news’. A cynic’s answer might be to trust no one but yourself. But only the arrogant would be so foolish, for we all die, and what is ‘hope’ that ceases to exist when we do?
Those seven miles of the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus were the seven miles of holiness. On them, the unknown stranger picked up the broken pieces of shattered hope and started reshaping the story in which they had hoped, had believed, had been destroyed. And at the end of those seven miles an extraordinary new vista emerged, a new hope, a greater hope, a hope that filled their hearts with burning. And then the bread is broken, and the burning bursts into sudden, blinding light. Now, at last, they know who they believe in…
The Bewcastle Benefice sermon for the third Sunday of Easter can be found here.