Hope. How high or low are your hopes right now? It seems like lately I hear a lot about hope. Hope for more vaccines. Hope for the lifting of health restrictions. Hope for a semi normal summer. Hope is often talked about as a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is important to our mental health, without hope, we can easily get lost in the darkness. Hope is always aimed at something. What are you hoping for? Where are your hopes aimed? We are always hoping for something, towards something. Lately, most ‘hope’ talk is aimed at a return to regular life, a return to our old freedoms. But a return to the old freedoms, is that the best we can hope for? Or do we have a better hope, one that doesn’t depend on our circumstances? Do we have a better, brighter light to turn to? As I prepare for a Children’s Message this week, I’m reminded that because we have Jesus we have everything we need. Take that statement in for a moment. You have everything you need in Jesus. Pause. Reflect on that. It might seem like an oversimplification, but is it? Recently we, the staff, have been discussing renaming the Children’s Message to something else. At our latest worship meeting we thought we’d try calling it “Bible Basics”, because that is really what they are. The Bible readings are taught in a simple manner. And they are really for anyone who has an ear to hear and wants to listen. I have received a lot of feedback from many people over the last year about these messages and sometimes people would say, “I know they are for the children, but I learn from them too.” Yes, this is good. They are for everyone. Like you, I enjoy learning complicated in-depth theology, but I also gain refreshing insights from a simpler approach. Jesus knew this and He teaches in both ways too. Sometimes He is abundantly clear and simple. Other times He speaks about complicated things that require greater Biblical study to fully understand. Our Monday night Bible study group is reading and studying Revelation. This is a complicated book, especially the middle and it’s best understood by gaining context from the whole Bible. In Revelation, Jesus teaches complicated and harder to understand messages about the nature of the end times—the times we have been in since Jesus ascended. This Sunday we read about Jesus teaching that He is the vine and we are the branches. The gospel lesson is from John 15, where Jesus uses grape vines as an example of how we grow in His grace as we are connected to Him. The illustration He uses is clear. Jesus is the source of our life and hope. We are connected to Him, as the branches are connected to the vine. Jesus’ lesson is simple. It’s child-like obvious. We grow fruit only if we are connected to the vine. He says, “I am the vine. You are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 We need Him. He is our source of life. He is the source of our Hope. Without Him we are a dead dried up branch, best used for kindling rather than growing fruit. Jesus taught the best Children Messages. “Let the little children come to me”, He said in Matthew 19:14. His words are for everyone. And in faith, we too are called “children of God”. (John 1:12) He knows the times we live in, these difficult end times. He knows that we easily get distracted or that we compromise too quickly. He knows that we are lost and desperate without hope. He knows that somedays we need a simple word. No matter what you are facing this week, whether you have high, high hopes or you’re just struggling to have any hope at all, turn your eyes to Jesus. Thank Him that He has connect you to Him through a different tree, the cross. Jesus spoke these comforting words to John and us in Revelation 1:17-18 “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Jesus loves you. Jesus has grafted you into His vine. You belong to Him. He is your source of life and hope, even until the day He returns to take you home and the end times are ended. Amen, come Lord Jesus come!