“Is that your final answer?”
Two weeks ago, ABC unleashed the first episode in an eight-episode miniseries of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Jimmy Kimmel replacing Regis Philbin as the host of the show. Celebrities Eric Stonestreet, Will Forte, Nikki Glaser, Jane Fonda, Anthony Anderson, Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper, Ike Barinholtz, Catherine O’Hara, Will Arnett, and Andy Cohen play for the chance to win a million dollars for a charity of their choice. (One twist: this time they’re able to bring a buddy along for the first ten questions!) Each of the contestants answers a series of multiple-choice questions, advancing in financial value as they answer correctly.
My favorite part of the show continues to be the lifelines they’re issued: 50/50, which cuts out two of the four answers, leaving one incorrect answer and the correct answer; “Ask the Host,” which replaces asking the audience for their optimum answer; and “Phone a Friend,” which allows the contestant to call one friend and ask them their answer to the question.
Somehow, phoning a friend has never quite meant the same thing as it does right now.
Right now, we need our friends; we need to stay connected to each other. While so many things are working the way they should, thanks to the advances made in technology since the last pandemic, I find myself most concerned by the potential for us to lose sight of each other as this drags on. Seriously, how many people wrestling with their own introverted nature, their own anxiety, their own concerns and to-do list are sinking farther and farther into a world that only they occupy?
Every week or so, I call, text, or message my parishioners. (Throughout the week, they’re receiving emails with devotions like this one, and we’re weekly doing worship online.) But sometimes, you need to make contact one-on-one. I hope that they’re reaching out to each other, to their family members and friends, and to their neighbors individually, connecting. Friends, we need each other, in community, #bettertogether. And yet, it’s amazing to me the number of people who let on that they’ve not spoken to anyone since the last time we chatted! None of us were meant for isolation — the Scriptures tell us so.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
And then there are the words of Jesus, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” from Matthew 18:20. Given that Jesus said God the Father was sending the Holy Spirit to be with us, and Paul wrote so prolifically about the Spirit being in us, we know God is with us even when we’re by ourselves. Our being together, in person or through technology, draws us into the Spirit deeper, through community, as we recognize that God is bringing us into the body of Christ, for each other, and for the worship of God.
Friends, don’t try to answer the questions all alone. Don’t fight through the insomnia or the anxiety or the isolation or the long afternoons alone. Phone a friend, make the connection. If not for your sake, for theirs.