As the weeks of the current restrictions of Shelter In Place continue, many are becoming restless and desire to risk the consequences of spreading the pandemic over their own safety and the safety of others. With the rise of unemployment and the collapse of the economy most want to return to the normalcy and the familiar routines of the past. Schools and Colleges are in dismay, as teachers, students, and parents want to return to the normalcy of the former days.
I was in Gemena, Congo when the pandemic escalated in the United States. Arriving home in late March of 2020, I felt like I was in a science fiction movie. Everything familiar had drastically changed. Schools and businesses were closed, meetings were limited to groups of 10 people, and grocery stores were enforcing the 6 feet rule of distance, allowing entrance to only a few people at a time. This also applied to all religious gatherings.
This truly was a Twilight Zone episode. Imagine, not going where you want, when you want? I read many reactions from various groups, some supporting and other opposing the restrictions. From the religious community I read comments like, “Pastors need to plead the blood and keep the church open” and “God has not given us a spirit of fear” or “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” and even “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves.” After all, it is normal to attend religious services. It’s a basic freedom we enjoy in America…going to “our Church.” It’s NORMAL, familiar, and we have a right to do what we want to do.
I admit the restrictive confinement is a lot to contend with, especially for an extrovert like me. However, I sense there are foundation stones being laid for the future building of a new normalcy. One where the benefits far outweigh the consequences.
I sense a new normalcy of family. Families are enjoying activities together in their homes and that causes great joy. Families are eating together, playing games together, learning and appreciating one another in ways long gone from our society. The love and attention needed by all family members may be a fulfillment of value in the new normalcy. Perhaps families suffering the anguish of domestic violence will be strengthened by the examples surrounding them, or maybe, taught a new way to live together in peace and harmony. Could the new normalcy support the essential building block of family as a priority?
I see a new normalcy in Churches across America and beyond who are utilizing new methods of technology in order to promote the message of the Gospel. Pastors no longer preach inside the hallowed walls of their sanctuaries to their own congregations, but rather, now Pastors are expanding the reach of God into the homes of people of various colors, various ethnicities, and various faiths. Church leaders and members now understand technology is not “the devil” but a tool useful in promoting peace, love, joy, and salvation. In this new normalcy Church leaders will no longer debate “Do we need this?” but rather, support the vision and insists, “We need more tools to serve people.”
I’ve enjoyed watching so many ministries on social media. I’ve enjoyed participating in the services of other pastors and congregations through sharing music and words of encouragement. This would have been impossible in the old normal, but in the new normalcy, being in two places (or more) at one time, is so easy. And the best thing about it, viewers can ‘attend’ at their convenience as many times as they choose.
Like the end of any good science fiction movie, where the earthling discovers, the future is much better than the past, I don’t want to return to the hustle and bustle life of the past. While the past holds many lessons learned and benefits of enjoyment, I am hoping we live into this new normalcy of family, community, and outreach for the glory of God. Peace.