Living in the valley, this is my favorite time of the year. The hills are green, the orchards are bursting into blossom, and the foggy days are turning into clear days, exposing the snow-covered Sierras. It is the most beautiful time of the year.
It is also the start of spring training for baseball. Injured players are working their way back into shape, and young prospects are yearning for a chance to make the team. No one has won or lost a game in the standings, so every team has a chance to be a winner. It is a season of hope and possibilities.
As Christians, hope and faith are what we are all about. We are readying ourselves for Easter, the ultimate sign of hope for those who follow Jesus.
Hope has a way of looking ahead, with sights set on a future outcome we may not be able to perceive in the present. Hebrews offers these words of encouragement in our waiting and hoping:
“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10: 23-24).
The scriptures encourage us to stay strong and keep the faith. Words of hope and encouragement come when we are still going through our struggles. Words of hope do not deny that there are still trials to go through. God sends words of hope when we need them most, which is when there is still work to be done to be the people and community God has a vision for us to be.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to provide one of the most concise definitions of faith on which we place our hope. We find in the next chapter:
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (Hebrews 11: 1).
We observe almond and apricot blossoms and know the harvest will follow. The snow on the Sierras can be measured and water for reservoirs can be estimated. We do not see these events, but we have faith they will happen.
Faith and hope are always looking forward. Our faith in spring water flow and summer harvest is based on experience. It is time for us to embrace a season of hope.
The Rev. Kevin Campbell is pastor of Federated Methodist-Presbyterian Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.