[Editor’s note: On the first night of Hutchmoot 2018, Andrew Peterson suddenly took a break from his Resurrection Letters set to deliver a speech. As he made his way through the first few paragraphs, it became clear to everyone that some cherished soul in the room was about to win a very special award. Then, as the context clues came together, it was undoubtable that the recipient would be Ben Shive, seated modestly behind the piano on the far side of the stage.
Since the inception of the Rabbit Room community, we’ve believed that real relationship requires more than merely an online exchange of ideas. The last decade of creative work has taught us that an exchange of ideas needs to be accompanied by shared laughter, by the satisfaction of a shared meal, by the joy of friendship. We’ve realized the power of bringing big ideas into three-dimensional space inhabited by flesh and blood people.
I deleted Instagram from my phone earlier this summer. A few months before that I did the same with the Facebook app. Our family went on a pretty big adventure for a few weeks, and more than once my instinct was to share a photo of it on social media, but when I realized the app wasn’t on my phone I felt a flash of frustration followed by a sigh of relief—then I moved on, happy to be fully present where I was, when I was, how I was with those I love most.
This whole thing—and by that I mean all of creation, from the outermost galaxies to my kitchen table—swirls around a Jewish man from the first century. He was born of woman, was a refugee, was more or less homeless, and lived a relatively short life. But his presence on the planet all those years ago changed history, and I believe he was the incarnation of God himself.
I’ve been attending a liturgical church for the last several years, and it rings all my word-nerd bells. The language is so beautiful and rich, and every service rehearses the story of salvation, culminating in Communion.
(This was originally published in The Molehill, but since that’s currently out of print and quite a few folks at this weekend’s Wilberforce Conference asked about it, I thought I’d post it here.)
My grandmother asked what kind of books I liked to read. “Fantasy novels,” I said. I probably had a Dragonlance book hidden in my backpack, next to the Walkman with the Tesla tape, the TransWorld Skateboarding mag and the Trapper Keeper with a Camaro on the front.
Ben Shive wrote and recorded this one for his first record several years ago, and I told him immediately that I wanted to record it for Resurrection Letters: Vol. I.
One of the most meaningful moments of my life was last year at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I wasn’t supposed to, but I used my phone to record the sounds of the Jews singing as the sun set that Sabbath, marking the beginning of the Jewish new year.
My friend Russ Ramsey, who was a pastoral consultant for this album, once preached a communion sermon on 1 Corinthians 11.
In a conversation with a friend a few years ago about why I’m a Christian, my answer boiled down to this: I’ve seen too much. There are too many good and beautiful things, too many stories that cry out for things to be made right, too many lives changed, too much healing, too many examples of humble sacrifice in the face of great evil for there to be no meaning, no bright love on the other side of the veil.
I think I’ve cried more while listening to this song than any other in my career, and it’s partly because I didn’t write it. I wish I had, because it’s everything I love about songwriting.
When my dad answers the phone on Easter Sunday, he doesn’t say, “Hello?” He says, “He is risen!” And he won’t say anything else until you respond with “He is risen, indeed.” I thought it was goofy when I was a kid, and now it makes me cry. Dad didn’t invent it, after all.