Guernsey Press, 27 April 2019

As a football fan, the approaching close season is a time of being hopeful. No matter what Reading FC may or may not have done the previous year, you wonder what the coming season will bring, hoping for success. During the season that hope can appear justified, or seem to have dashed in devastating fashion.

Around Christmas, Reading appeared doomed. Everything at the club was wrong. The whole culture seemed most unnatural and uncomfortable. And, then, new management was put in place. Players were told to leave. New players arrived. Fans were sceptical. In all honesty we had lost hope. Even the local radio were continually slating the new manager before a match had been played.

We were going down. My daughter Bridget tried to reassure me, but I wouldn’t listen – they were rubbish.

As I write this, there are two matches to go this season and we are six points clear of the relegation places with a vastly superior goal difference. Hope has been restored, there’s a very good chance of us staying up.

At that first Easter the hopes of Jesus’ followers had been dashed. He was the Messiah, they had believed him. But he was arrested, crucified as a common criminal, and buried. All was lost, or so it seemed.

Early in the morning Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty. She went to tell Simon Peter and the others – but they struggled to believe what had happened. Even the empty tomb caused more questions rather than answers.

But they started talking. Something was happening, maybe all hope wasn’t lost. Later they met Jesus, and believed. Since then, countless people have heard the accounts and come to believe themselves, having faith that this is true. They hear of this hope, and have faith that Jesus did truly rise from the dead. And so Christians have a hope that this life is not all there is. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, there is more to come.

Hope changes lives. It affects how we look at everything.

I wonder, is my hope in Reading avoiding relegation misguided?

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