Always Hope

March 19, 2008

Last September when I spoke at a conference in Colorado, I met a prison chaplain who asked if we would donate 3000 copies of An Anchor for the Soul from the Anchor Book Depot to be distributed in New Mexico prisons. We were happy to comply with that request, and early this year we received a letter from an inmate named William who said that though he was raised Jewish, in his teen years he turned to pagan beliefs. Later he rededicated himself to the Jewish faith. He had been told about Jesus but dismissed him because “I was afraid of betraying my Jewish heritage.” And then he added, “Although I went through the motions of being a good and obedient Jew, my heart wasn’t in it. I felt as if something was missing.” Here is the remainder of his letter:

It seems very appropriate during Holy Week that we should think about a life utterly transformed by Jesus Christ. He came for people just like William, for those who felt they had no hope and could not fill the hole in their soul. Earlier tonight I read about Mikhail Gorbachev praying at the Tomb of St. Francis. Who would have thought that a former leader of the Soviet Union would turn out to be a believer in Jesus? Miracles do happen, which is what this week is all about. Writing in 1960, William F. Buckley said,

We deem it the central revelation of Western experience that man cannot ineradicably stain himself, for the wells of regeneration are infinitely deep….Even out of the depths of despair, we take heart in the knowledge that it cannot matter how deep we fall, for there is always hope.

Always hope. Surely this is the final message of Holy Week. Out of death comes resurrection. Against all odds the Son of God walks out of the tomb. It is Good News for prisoners and prime ministers and everyone in between.

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