Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Hope: An Easter Reflection

Easter is a good story. It is not simply a happy story, it contains all the complexity of a great story—Hope, Despair, Waiting, Resolution. I plan to follow that storyline this week, in the days leading up to Easter.

Eight Flying DovesCreative Commons License Hartwig HKD via Compfight

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –

The children march single file into the sanctuary. They fidget under their white robes, waving palm branches side to side and in the faces of their friends. Toothy smiles greet them. Everyone loves a children’s choir.

Their undeveloped voices warble and intertwine like a forest of songbirds. Outside, the sun slips free of a cloud and light streams in through the windows, transforming the swaying mass into a chorus of cherubs. They glow.


They sing of something they do not yet understand. They are too young to know deep pain and despair. They are protected. They have not yet felt alone and forgotten. They cannot fully understand what they sing.

We are rescued!

Hosanna. The imprisoned will be rescued.
Hosanna. The oppressed will be freed.
Hosanna. The darkness will be filled with light.

Hosanna equals Hope.

Their words waft over the congregation, sending them backwards to another time and place:

When grown men streamed out into the streets, shouting off-key like a children’s choir and waving palm branches in the air at a man riding a donkey.

When hearts burned— He has come! We are rescued! Our rescuer is here, humble and yet powerful.

When, at last, the chains of oppression felt lightened and freedom seemed near enough to touch.

When a crowd cast cloaks onto a dirt road—a makeshift red carpet trampled by muddy hooves—and hope arose, “We will never be trampled again.”

When a swollen city burst with joy, “God has not forgotten us.”

Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.


As the cherubs descend the stage, the congregation applauds. Mothers wink to fathers, and fathers smile in return. Proud children wave with glee as the parade of palms heads down the aisle. And, with a silent flap of its wings, hope perches in every soul.

It sings:

You have a future.
You are not forgotten.
You have a purpose.
You will not be left this way forever.

Your King has come, riding on a donkey.

How have you experienced HOPE in your story? Let me know in the comments.


“Hope” is the thing with feathers
Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Read the next post in the series—Despair.

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