I won’t presume to know how you all are feeling, exactly. If you’re like me, you might feel a bit like we’ve entered the Twilight Zone–more than once I’ve had to ask someone what day of the week it is. We are in a time and space where all the usual markers have lost some of their meaning. Getting ready for work or school, for some of us, has meant leaving one room in the house and going into another. Or maybe just getting out of bed long enough to freshen up before climbing back in with our laptops or books.
Here, setting a time for dinner might be more a matter of eating when we are hungry, rather than scheduling our meals before or after a meeting, outing, practice, class or exercise. Even for those of us who have continued to go to work outside the home, driving by empty parking lots or coming home to a family that never leaves the house is your strange new world.
And so, if you’re like me, you’re wondering when we get back to “normal.”
It’s already been said in many places by wiser people than I am, that maybe the old normal (bickering, war, oppression, the forgotten marginalized, inadequate health care, food insecurity) isn’t the thing we need to return to. In fact, it’s what Jesus often says in His teachings, and it’s what we pray for in our Savior’s Prayer: that things on earth will be like they are in heaven, under God’s will. As Christians, a return to “normal” just isn’t in our DNA. We have always, always been journeying toward better than normal, something wonderful and safe and whole. God’s normal.
Now, that doesn’t mean we aren’t lonely, straining, suffering, and becoming anxious with the need to gather together. Of course we are, and that’s a good impulse to want to be together. We just need to season it with discernment and prayer. What better time than now, when the world as we know it is on pause and is upside-down, to acknowledge that we are always only on God’s time anyway?
While we are on God’s clock, let us consider what kind of world God would have us return to. It’s exactly what your church Council will be doing at our meeting this month, considering what gifts we can bring out of this unprecedented time in our lives to foster in the new normal we will soon enter. How will we not simply go back to our old ways, but embrace a better vision?
Friends, I miss our gathering, more than I can say. But I am excited for the chance to seize on our learning and be better than before. We’ll share some of the ways we think we can do that soon, including estimates for reopening the sanctuary and safety measures for us getting together. Until then, please pray that we discern wisely and lovingly, keeping God’s will ever before us.