The "New Normal"
"I can't wait for things to go back to normal."
"Let's just act like everything is normal."
I've been hearing that a lot lately. I mean...I may have even said it a few times myself. We say it about work, church, and life in general. I've heard many differing opinions about how we should move forward - as a church, as a community, as a country, and as a global community. But for now, let's focus on church. Should we be back together yet? Should we just do things virtually? Parking lot services? Sunday school?
We are all searching for an answer - a yes or no, true/false, right or wrong answer. The problem is that I'm not convinced there is one. Maybe this problem can't be put into a tidy little box like we try so hard to do. Maybe no matter what decision is made, someone is going to be unhappy with it.
But here's the thing...it doesn't matter if people are unhappy. Jesus wasn't in the people-pleasing business, so why should we be? If Jesus went around trying to make everyone happy, he wouldn't have performed any miracles. There were people who didn't like it. He wouldn't have preached the gospel. There were people who didn't like it. He wouldn't have died for us. It was necessary...but God didn't like it. That was a sacrifice made for us and a sacrifice, by definition, is an unpleasant experience.
Also, back to the whole "normal" thing...I was thinking about normal. Normal have changed a lot since I was a kid (and I'm really not that old). Take worship for instance. When I was a kid, there was shouting, praying, screaming, and crying at every church service. The altar was full at every service. There were times we had to open windows and doors for people to listen because the church was so packed. Songs would be sung over and over because the Spirit was moving so powerfully. Things are different now. We talk about sticking with the "old ways" and not getting "too contemporary".
"Hymnals were good enough for the church then. They should be good enough for us now."
"We don't need any of the fancy equipment. It is distracting from worship."
These are things I've heard - not just at my church but from people all over the country. Here's the problem...the same people who want to stick to the "old ways" are forgetting that what we are doing isn't the "old way". It's a watered-down version at best.
Now, before I move forward I need to note: I am not judging, bashing, or calling anyone out. I am just making an observation based on what I have seen/experienced through my journey. That being said....
After thinking about how worship used to look versus how it often looks now, I began to think...I don't believe that God "plagued" us with COVID. However, I do believe that everything has a purpose. What if the purpose of COVID was to show us that "normal" wasn't good enough? Maybe the "new normal" isn't a bad thing. Maybe the new normal is a chance for us to do better.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites followed a cycle. They would follow God. Then they would fall away. God would let something happen that would get their attention. They would come back to Him and then the cycle would repeat. Maybe...just maybe God is opening a door for us to come back to Him. Maybe He is providing a chance for a clean slate - a fresh start - where we can give Him the honor and glory that He deserves. Maybe we have been holding out. Maybe it's time to let go. Maybe its time to surrender all to God and embrace a "new normal."