A week ago my new friend Jim Horning, the youth pastor at Grace Community Church in Newton Kansas, invited my wife and me out to be his guests at Andrew Peterson’s “Resurrection Letters” concert, which they hosted. I know many of you have questions about this tour. And since its first leg was fairly limited in its geographical scope, I thought I’d tell you about my experience at one show.
There are many similarities between this concert and the Behold the Lamb tour, but if you’re wanting a replica of Behold the Lamb for Easter, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment– not in the musicianship or the quality of the songs, but maybe with regards to your expectations. The events surrounding Christmas and Easter hit you differently—though they bookend the same atoning life offered freely for sinners. That said, if you come to Resurrection Letters with open expectations, you will savor this telling of “the rest of the story” from beginning to end.
I suppose the most obvious way to go about telling you about my experience at the Resurrection Letters concert is to compare and contrast it to the “Behold the Lamb” tour. So let the bullet points begin.
– Resurrection Letters and Behold the Lamb are both “Andrew Peterson Presents” affairs. To call Resurrection Letters an Andrew Peterson concert—as wonderful as those are— is to understate what it really is. Like Behold the Lamb, it features a host of excellent singer/songwriters (like Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn) opening the show with original songs in the round.
By the way, Andy Gullahorn did a brand new song that brought a powerful silence over the room. I’d try to describe it, but I’d fail, ruining the memory of it for those who were there. But please, for the love, if you have not discovered this songwriter, get thee some iTunes store credit and download “Reinventing the Wheel.”
– Resurrection Letters is a work in progress while Behold the Lamb has had years of trial and error and polish. Behold the Lamb concerts now number in the triple digits, Resurrection Letters concerts are still just barely out of the single digits. That said, Resurrection Letters is still excellent from beginning to end—and so if that beginning, end or even the middle changes next year, it will only be in the name of making it better.
– Resurrection Letters hit me very differently than Behold the Lamb. And I think for most people, this will be the case. Sitting in the Easter show, my heart sank and rose, ached and sang, broke and healed in the space of an hour.
The Christmas story seems to require an epic vantage point with occasional forays into specific moments. The Easter story, on the other hand, seems the opposite in some ways—requiring a vantage point narrowed really on about four days time (Thursday to Sunday) with occasional forays into epic panoramas.
– Also, the conflicts in the Christmas story seem to me to be of the nature of near misses—like Herod missing Jesus, or no room in the inn but the cave out back is available, etc. Easter, on the other hand, presents its conflicts as a series of venomous, devastating, direct hits. Both have gloriously happy endings, but Easter requires that we walk a much darker path to get there. At Christmas, its the story of how nothing could stop Jesus’ birth. At Easter, however, its the story of how nothing could stop His death, and then how nothing, not even death could hold Him.
Still, He has to die, and that fact is central to the Easter story. I guess what I’m trying to say is these two shows will hit people really differently, and that’s a sign that Andrew and company are telling both parts of Jesus’ story faithfully.
– These two concert experiences are among the most substantial and worshipful concepts for concerts I know. They both tell timeless stories. And I believe people will never grow tired of these two shows because the story they tell is the Gospel.
On a personal note, these two tours—and the corresponding records that go with them—are helping to introduce my children to the Lord. For that, to Andrew’s entire ensemble, I cannot thank them enough.
It seems to me that the impact of both Behold the Lamb and Resurrection Letters lies ahead for Andrew and company. Each will be greatly enhanced by the other. I can see a day when four months of Andrew’s year is more or less devoted to these two tours—and I think they have only begun to find their audience.
If you had the opportunity to catch a Resurrection Letters concert this year, you got in on the ground floor of something I believe will become the kind of art people will regard as more than just great. They will call it important. And that will be because the story The Resurrection Letters sets out to tell—the story of the risen Christ, the most important story ever told—will have been told well.
Bathe it in prayer, folks.
He is risen.
He is risen indeed!
Russ Ramsey is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church Cool Springs in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children. He grew up in the fields of Indiana and studied at Taylor University and Covenant Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM). Russ is the author of the Retelling the Story Series (IVP, 2018) and Struck: One Christian’s Reflections on Encountering Death (IVP, 2017).