Can You Know Joy Without Pain? // M-Note 3.23.24

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “without pain you can’t know joy.” The sentiment gets at a philosophical puzzle, namely can we know one feeling or state without experiencing its opposite. For example, we know what warmth is by experiencing that which is cold. We know peace only because we have experienced suffering. We know grace only because we have experienced judgment. You get the idea.
Something similar is true about Easter. The joy and hope that we find in resurrection only makes sense when we first experience the pain, isolation, or grief of death. That is why in scripture we have a Savior who experienced the full breadth of human experiences. He lived, he was betrayed, he suffered, and he died. Many around him wondered why this had to be the way that God showed up in the world. Even today many struggle with the stories of suffering and death that Christ experienced. Can’t we just skip over that stuff?
The answer is no. Why? Because we can’t skip over it in the world. Life entails pain, it includes suffering, and death is a reality for all of us. To skip this part would be to make our faith disconnected from the lives we live. The promise of Jesus isn’t that we will not experience pain and suffering, but rather that there is hope and new life on the other side of it. Resurrection only makes sense after one experiences the sting of death.
That is why Holy Week is a central time of worship, and it starts next week. On Maundy Thursday we will commemorate the events of the last supper where Jesus gathered with his disciples, washed their feet, and shared a meal with them. The Gathering will have an interactive open house meditative experience at the Clayton Site from 5-7pm. Join us anytime during that period and remember the events of the last night Jesus was with his disciples. On Good Friday, we will gather at 7pm at our McCausland site to commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross. Moving through Holy Week helps us to fully experience the joy of Easter, and it will be joyous!
Next Sunday, March 31, The Gathering will celebrate Easter at The Factory in Chesterfield at 9 and 10:45am. It is going to be an incredible morning of worship with uplifting music, an inspiring message, interactive kids ministry (0-5), and plenty of room for you and your friends. All of you know someone that is going through a tough time right now or may just need a word of hope or joy. This is the time to invite them. So please invite your friends and family to worship with us. We promise that it will be worth it for them.

You can find all the details here and share the word on social media. And, if you want to volunteer to serve, we would love that, and we think you will too.
This weekend I will be finishing our series Entourage: Characters in Jesus’ Crew by talking about one of the most important, yet overlooked, of Jesus’ disciples, Mary Magdalene. Have a great weekend and I will see you in church.
P.S. This year 100% of our Easter offering will fund The Gathering’s Literacy Project here in St. Louis. I hope you will give a special gift that gives life to so many kids in our schools.
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