written by Lee Ann Pomrenke
Resurrection is not a one-time event. We celebrate as Easter that one time Mary Magdalene and the other Mary discovered the empty tomb, but Jesus’ life after death and what it means to us has to be rediscovered by every disciple regularly. Some of us believe and hope when we hear the story, and others of us need to see resurrection play out in our own lives before we fully trust in its possibility. Living into that hope is a daily practice, a renewable resource, if you will. I have been rediscovering the discipline of acting on resurrection hope in surprising ways, by driving an electric vehicle.
When our last car bit the dust, we decided to make a change. To reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions, my spouse and I decided our next vehicle would be a hybrid. We test-drove all the hybrid vehicles on the market. Then my husband, stealthy as the Holy Spirit, introduced the idea: “You know, if we’re going this direction, we should at least try out the all-electric cars available.” My objections were very reasonable, as I could see it becoming my extra responsibility as the primary driver to watch the dial and make sure the car was charged for whatever distances we would end up needing to go. And what about road trips? Since this would be our only car, we would not be able to opt out, and fall back on a car that was easier to re-fuel at gas station.
I am surprised to admit that my objections have turned into life-giving boundaries, and a new way to participate in resurrection. Driving an EV (electric vehicle) requires my continual re-commitment to renewable energy, more than a little similar to the regular pursuit of living as if resurrection is real. We double-checked that our home electric power (for the car charger we had installed at home) is supplied 100% from wind power, an option where we live, so we are not only avoiding carbon-based energy but we are “driving demand” for renewable electricity with our buying power. We feel good about that, but the way this choice makes us more intentional about our energy usage has perhaps a greater impact.
The initial decision (which our Evangelical Christian siblings emphasize) to follow Christ, at the urging of the Holy Spirit, is never a one-and-done choice. It leads to millions of intentional choices required of us, limiting our desires in order to support the hope of new life for all our neighbors. It is kind of like how this electric car makes me pay attention to where and when I need to charge it, limiting my “just running out to get one more thing,” thoughtless carbon emissions. I rarely let the charge get so low that we could not make an emergency trip, but it puts frivolous or selfish choices into perspective. On road trips, we have stopped to charge earlier than we needed to, just to be on the safe side (a side of the equation my husband otherwise rarely finds himself inhabiting). Two major detours were thwarted on our longest road trip, because in some parts of this country there are still not EV chargers available, and a slow overnight “trickle charge” from an extension cord would not get us through. As in our lives of faithful action, this part of who we are now affects what we do next. The identity we took on months or years ago can constrain us from detours, or cause us to react quicker, not just for our own sake, but especially for the good of others. We cannot drain ourselves dry, or we will have no energy to do God’s work of sharing the Gospel and loving our neighbors!
But what about spontaneity? Some of us appreciate the need to stick to a plan, but others may decry the hampering of individual freedom to change our minds and follow the road less traveled. My spouse, for example, might invoke the unpredictable nature of the Holy Spirit to support his spontaneous side trips. The Spirit blows where and when She chooses. While we do need reminders to remain open to those pushes, within the life of the Church we have committed to making room for the Holy Spirit while valuing the previous choices made and the boundaries created from Scripture and tradition. We practice patterns such as meeting weekly for worship because they are life-giving for us and our neighbors, reminding us continually to pause and re-charge, because we need it. I think there is a commandment about that.
Not the least of the similarities between our EV life and Christian life, is the food. We have lots of refreshments, eating together regularly. When we are on a longer road trip, stopping at a super-charger for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours is a bit like the church coffee hour. The children – and maybe their parents too – look forward to the treat or meal that is surely coming at regular intervals. It is a chance to stop forging ahead or powering through until parts of our bodies are awkwardly asleep or we’re so cranky from being in close quarters that we are picking at each other’s foibles. We all need a regular re-set for our bodies and relationships. And it helps if there is food!
If the resurrection of Jesus is not just a one-time event, but a present and future reality for us, then committing ourselves to intentional choices to promote and spread the hope of new life is an optional constraint I can sign up for. One choice made leads to practicing hope for resurrection for the earth, for my neighbors, and for my own autonomy.