Experts say that COVID-19 will be around for some indefinite time and possibly have a resurgence in the fall and winter. All the while, researchers and other experts tirelessly work towards better treatments and prevention options, including accelerated human vaccine trials.
Nevertheless; I wonder, “Will things return to normal after all of this is said and done? Is normal something we really want?” Certainly, I hope we are able to live in a world climate in which we experience less fear, anxiety, worry and concern. I also can’t help but wonder whether all of this “crisis” will effectively be treated as just another “inconvenience”, with no lessons learned.
As Christians, we yearn to be able to return to worship and return to church with a closer fellowship. We desire to be able to worship where we can do more than elbow bump, air hug, and wave. We want to be able to embrace each other and the needs of the world as well as the needs of fellow members of our community in a loving way that conveys the compassion and grace of Christ.
Normal for us as Christians isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Too often, we get in a rut, doing things the way they have always been done. Some have even suggested that the “famous last words” of the church may well be, “We’ve never done it that way before.” How, then, as a Christian community, do we embrace a better normal in the way in which we show and share the love of Christ in meaningful and hopeful ways?
The world didn’t suddenly become in need of Christ because of a pandemic. The world has always been in need of Christ and God’s love and grace. However, the church has not always done a great job of reflecting that love. Perhaps the better normal can look more cooperative. Perhaps the better normal might look like churches working together and embracing their shared virtues and values in preference to the smaller, less significant, beliefs and doctrines that often lead to division rather than co-operation.
By my own estimation (and I could be incorrect) we are probably a month away from Governor Ivey fully reopening the State of Alabama and everything “going back to normal.“ Perhaps, our better normal is a time in which we can allow petty differences to go by the wayside and we can allow our shared communion in Christ to be more important. The world does in fact need us displaying the Presence of Christ, now more than ever. Perhaps, in this better normal there’s a time for us to actually be the church that Christ has called us to be . . . not Christians who try to prove to other Christians that we are more correct, or have a better interpretation, or can quote more scripture.
Perhaps, this is a time for us to quit bragging about all the things that we do and just simply be the Presence of Christ in tangible and concrete ways precisely where we are. My best guess is that if every Christian would just simply be the Presence of Christ in little ways - where they are - then it would be the biggest change, the biggest show of God’s love, that the world has ever seen. Perhaps Saint Francis of Assisi had it right when he said (or, is attributed to have said), “Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere you go, and when necessary, use words.”