Resurrection. It’s the most inexplicable mystery in the gospels. It’s so important that all four retell it, even that weirdo, John. It’s so central that Paul won’t stop harping on about it. Resurrection is essential to positing the deity of Christ.
Resurrection is also a great big youth retreat happening this weekend.
For the past thirty or so years, a massive number of teens has descended upon Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge for a rally that will be their spiritual high for the whole year. Probably. It’s huge. It’s loud. It’s in your face.
It’s really all a bit much.
I suspect that our young people are increasingly cynical of attempts to manipulate their emotions in such obvious ways as the lights and music and preaching of Resurrection has been designed to do. Now, my suspicion may be strongly influenced by my own perspective, but I think it’s worth considering, at least.
For recent years, Resurrection has employed a Quiet Room, a low-sensory zone for youth (and adults) who are overwhelmed by what can become oppressive stimuli in the concert hall. I don’t remember that being a need when I went to Resurrection in the ‘90s. Folks who weren’t fans of the noise and light just sulked, Daria-esque, until it transitioned into something more palatable.
A lot of young people today are accustomed to constant, swiftly changing stimuli. Recent science points to evidence that the barrage of digital information being constantly streamed at young people is actually rewiring their brains. They think differently from every generation that has preceded them.
But that stimulus overload is entirely different from what happens at Resurrection. We can control the stimuli coming from phones and tablets and computers and televisions and headphones. In the concert hall, the sound and fury is inescapable.
Now, that kind of overstimulation isn’t something everyone experiences at Resurrection. My experience in recent years is that most of the crowd still goes for the rock and roll and the lights and the mosh pit and the screaming and the singing along with music so loud you can’t hear your own voice. And it’s not just the youth leaders who are trying to relive their childhoods. It’s the young people learning how powerful a shared experience can be with a few thousand of your closest friends.
So I ask you to pray for them. Pray for these young people and their mentors and chaperones. Pray for the city of Pigeon Forge and all the off-season employees who are about to be extremely busy. Pray that the Spirit transforms lives. Pray that every person involved in this weekend’s experience sees the face of Jesus at some point. Pray that, as they come home from this extraordinary weekend, they might find themselves re-created in a way that cannot be written off or trampled upon.
Pray for these young people, particularly. They are not just the future of the Church. They are her present: brilliant and shining lives that we cover and shade at the risk of losing our own souls. Listen to them. Take them seriously. Let their transformation transform you.
Pray for Resurrection, friends. Don’t stop. Pray without ceasing. Even after we all come back, grumpy and exhausted, keep praying. We’ll need it.