I was talking with some friends on the back porch the other night, and together we were lamenting how this year has reduced so many experiences to a simple information exchange. At work, there isn’t time at the water cooler or in the break room to talk about the ballgame last night and the weekend ahead. Instead, we hop into a Zoom with a set agenda and facilitated conversation. At church, we haven’t had our after church lunches where adults share struggles and joys while kids run wild on the playground. Instead, we are in for worship, then back to the grind.
By necessity, we have replaced engaging in meaningful experiences with downloading the necessary data and moving on.
I don’t mean this to sound so curmudgeonly, and I certainly don’t mean to condemn. All of these are small examples of the many sacrifices—both great and small—that we have made in the name of loving and protecting others, especially the most vulnerable. This rewiring of experience isn’t something we want or would have chosen; it’s a sad side effect of the circumstances. Our experience has been thinned out, flattened, as if we’ve gone from living in 4K HD down to rabbit-ear antennae static.
I write this here during this first week of Easter, basking in the bursting color and life that accompanies this season of joy, and I realize how unprepared I feel. I’m so used to thinking only of necessary obligations and required information that I fear the good news of Christ’s resurrection will hit me as one more news headline among many. I fear that I will grasp the data—the fact of the matter—but fail to lay hold of the person of Jesus.
This Sunday, I’ll be preaching on our dear friend and brother, ‘doubting’ Thomas, from John 20. There are several reasons I think we view Thomas too harshly, but I’m especially sympathetic to his point of view now. See, for Thomas, the fact of Christ’s resurrection was meaningful in a way, but insufficient. For Thomas, until he experienced fully the presence of the risen Christ, his Lord, the miracle was distant, abstract.
In this season, I long for the fullness of Christ. I long to go beyond simply downloading the data of the resurrection, as if my new life in Christ were a software update. I don’t want to hear, “He is risen,” and scroll to the next post. I want the messy, complicated, intensely relational experience of the resurrection—the one with wounds I can still place my fingers in. I want to engage again with the fullness of my own experience, and not be a passive consumer taking in the bare minimum to get by. And I’m not so naive to think that this won’t break my heart. Experiencing the fullness of the present leaves me vulnerable not just to the fact of suffering but to its reality. It forces me to not just know what others are going through, but to empathize and act. If I want, as Paul writes, to “rejoice with those who rejoice”, I must be willing to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Easter holds up to us the bright flame of the resurrection, so that we might not only see more clearly the truth of Christ’s supremacy, but that we might feel the heat of his nearness at every moment. I challenge all of us to find ways to resist the thinning and flattening of our day-to-day and look for ways to lean in to discover what God is doing and how we are called to join him. For you, that may mean a phone call (not a text!) to the friend you know is hurting. It may mean finding some time to retreat and unplug from the onslaught of information. It may mean listening to your music a little louder as you make a milkshake run on a sunny afternoon. Find ways to savor what the present holds before you for all it is worth.
Let us dive deep into the riches this season has for us and live into the reality of the resurrection.