I was passing through the lobby in a hotel in Juba and noticed the displays on the occasional tables. Not the expected flower arrangements or newspapers, but small ash trays filled with soil and sprouting grass.
As I pondered the significance of these table decorations, I thought of the traditional nomadic way of life of many of the people of South Sudan: cultures where people and cattle are interdependent, where the long, dry season determines where they wander, following sources of water and fodder when life is harsh and times are tough. And I wondered what it must feel like to see those green shoots of new grass after the first rains, the promise of plenty, of life flourishing again, of being able to settle for a while and rest.
Across the world we are living in anxious times, hunkering down, praying that the available resources will be enough to meet our needs, that the medical services will hold up and that the virus will pass without wreaking too much havoc.
In many of our Global Partner countries the impact of this pandemic is likely to be far more devastating than in the western world. Economies and health services are already struggling and many families already live in poverty.
Reading through Isaiah this Holy Week, written at a time of great suffering because people had turned away from God, the chapters are woven through with promises of hope and restoration.
‘I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…I love you…I am with you…I will gather you…I am the Lord’
I was reminded of those grass shoots in the lobby. Surely they were a symbol of hope.
This week, of all weeks, is a time for reflection, a time when we can call on God from our places of helplessness, when we can hold on to His promises despite everything.
As we enter the Easter weekend and remember God’s great plan of redemption, as we celebrate life triumphing over death, let us look for those green shoots of hope around us. Surely this is our calling – to stand witness to the redeeming power of the risen Christ – to watch out for the signs of redemption and hope in our own communities, to witness God at work here and now.
‘Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?’
This blog is part of our special 'Voices Of Hope' series - as we seek to provide stories of light during this time of uncertainty and upheaval.