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 The events of late have me thinking on so much... on the nature of hope, on how hope has played a significant role in my own journey of faith, and how hope is what we all need to hang on to in the coming days as we face the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus. I am reminded of a quote from J.R.R Tolkein's "The Return of the King", when in the midst of a seemingly endless and impossible struggle, Samwise speaks words of hope to his friend Frodo: "I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something." Hope is so much more than a pretty word to decorate a coffee cup or a sign hung on a wall. In a broken world of war and tumult, of illness, isolation and uncertainty… hope, true hope, is a resiliency against despair. As was the case for the young Samwise, hope is dependent on remembering the stories of hope shared in love. In our case, it is about remembering the promises of hope from God that we all have experienced in our own journeys. Our Hope as followers of Jesus comes from the One who knows us and loves us, even in times of uncertainty. And as it says in Isaiah - Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength" God will continue to strengthen us and uphold us if we remember to turn to God and rely on the hope promised to us. My hope is that I may be able to speak hope into the life of each of you whose journeys have and continue, to intersect with mine. Hope is not always easy to hold into and during these difficult times of seclusion, know that there is hope, know there are people to hold out hope for you if needed. We are here, we love, we care and we hope for one another. Reach out if you need.

Peace, health and blessings to each of you Kirsten