The Holdovers & Hope

It’s the Christmas holidays at an elite New England boarding school, there is snow everywhere, and the boys are going home for the celebrations. All of them that is, except for five ‘holdovers’, who for one reason or another are staying at school to be looked after by grouchy, hardnosed Mr Paul Hunham, the unlikeable classics teacher. It’s not long though before the five students have become one, as four of the lads find other places to go. And so it is Mr Hunham, head cook Mary Lamb and pupil Angus Tucker who find themselves eyeball to eyeball as they muddle and wrestle through the festive season together. And as the days pass an unlikely friendship is formed. As they share a meal together one day Mr Hunham tells Angus that he finds the world a bitter and complicated place, not only that, but the world seems to find him bitter and complicated too. The feeling is mutual. Paul is unhappy and ill-at-ease with his lot and this affects the way he treats the boys and those around him.

Everything is connected, we are whole people. When Naomi’s world falls apart at the start of the book of Ruth, she tells everyone to call her ‘bitter’. She is full of disappointment and she begins to let that leak over everyone else. No doubt she didn’t get invited to many parties! She and Mr Hunham would have made a jolly couple!!! But she begins to change, and the miracle takes place though her daughter-in-law Ruth. who certainly is not bitter. She has lost her husband and left her home behind, yet she holds onto hope. And as she lives out her positive worldview so Naomi begins to thaw out. She stops being so bitter and starts making healthy suggestions. Before long both their lives are changed. ‘Hold onto hope,’ Gwen, Spiderman’s girlfriend tells him in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And then she says, ‘Become hope for others.’ This is exactly what Ruth does, she becomes hope for Naomi. It’s what Paul becomes to so many as he travels around, it’s what Tabitha had become in Acts 9 v 36-41, as she cared for those who were poor. And when Tabitha died it was Peter who became a sign of hope in resurrecting her, and in doing so, he resurrected the hope in her friends. Christian runner Eric Liddel once said something like this, ‘Everything we do can draw people a little closer to God, or drive them a little further away.’ When Jesus walked out of the tomb on Easter Sunday morning he waited in the shadows, new hope right there in his hands, waiting to see who he could share it with. I think he still waits today.

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