Now that the (men’s) college basketball season if officially over we can look ahead to next year. Considering that Kentucky literally just won the tournament very late last night, it might seem a little early to do so. But ESPN already has its pre-season rankings out for next year. They have Indiana University #1.
Living in Bloomington this past year has been a lot of things. Among them it has been exciting. I wouldn’t exactly call Indiana University fans “long suffering,” but it does seem that Hoosier Nation was getting a little itchy after a few years out of the spotlight that usually shines on the elite college basketball programs. And let’s be honest, IU is basketball royalty. So it was fun to go along for the ride of this season and cheer for a Sweet 16 team. True to the lore and mystique of the movie “Hoosiers,” this squad seemingly came out of nowhere to surprise a lot of people–much to the delight of many here in Bloomington.
But now as ESPN’s poll has revealed, there are some big expectations on the Hoosiers next year. A number 1 ranking is hard to live up to and certainly we don’t expect them to go undefeated. But there is a lot of optimism. There is a lot of hope. There are great expectations for great things to come. Midnight Madness can’t get here quick enough.
And isn’t that what hope is all about? That something (whatever it is) will take a turn for the better. That there are endless possibilities for good. That we have something to look forward to. Sometimes we have to hope for several months until basketball season begins again. Sometimes we end up hoping for years for some good news in a situation to come our way. Other times it is only a day or two that we have to hopefully wait before we get our answer. Sometimes the outcome we hope for does not happen.
Hope is significant for Christians this time of year (and always!). As we progress and go forward during this Holy Week we are reminded how the cheers on Palm Sunday quickly turned into shouts of “Crucify him!” later in the week. Then the sky darkened and Jesus breathed his last.
But Easter comes. It came three days later for the disciples and those who loved Jesus. He had told them how this would all shake out, but I wonder what was going on inside their heads in those in-between days. Did they hold onto hope? Was Thomas the only doubter? Had they made up their minds to just move on with life? Of course, we know how it turns out. We’ve been living and celebrating it for years. So we can have good Easter hope knowing that Good Friday isn’t the final word.
However you find yourself this Holy Week I do hope that you have hope. And may you have great expectations for the great love of God to continue to come your way. May you have much to look forward to. May you always be open to the surprising grace of God that can roll away a huge stone from the front of a tomb. May you remember that if today is rough there is always tomorrow…and for basketball fans, there is always next year!