Pastor’s Friday Comments (06.11.21)

As the pandemic begins to subside – at least in the United States – the singular desire most often expressed is, “I can’t wait to get back to normal.”

Yeah, let’s not do that.

Let’s not go back to our naive assumption that we can live in our bubble of privilege and prosperity, without concern for the rest of the world. If this global disaster has demonstrated anything, it is that neither God nor nature cares about human-created boundaries. We are inextricably bound with one another, like it or not, and furthermore, that is clearly the way God intended it to be.

Let’s not go back to the siege mentality of the institutional Church, thinking that everyone is out to “get us.” They’re not. They – the people of the world who are not Christians – don’t care about us one way or the other. To them we are irrelevant, and rightly so, because we have become so focused on self-preservation that we have forgotten that our call is to love the world, not save ourselves from it.

Let’s not go back to our disingenuous protestations that we do not harbor deep-seated prejudices and collective assumptions about anyone who is not “like us.” It’s time for us to come to grips with our innate racism, sexism, nationalism, and any other “ism” that prevents us from seeing others as people of infinite worth, created in the image of God.

Let’s not go back to pretending that we can continue to kick the can of impending ecological catastrophe further down the road. The environmental apocalypse is upon us and, as Christians who should understand our stewardship of the earth, we can’t leave the job of protecting this fragile planet to our children. It’s too late for that.

Let’s not go back to the casual acceptance of a level of violence that threatens everyone, but especially the poor who live in conditions that you and I cannot imagine.

When the remnant of Israelites returned to the Promised Land, they had hopes for a reformation of their national and religious life. The prophets of that age, especially deutero-Isaiah and Jeremiah, challenged them to repent of the sins that had led to their captivity and to renew their commitment to God’s reign over them.

What they focused on instead was a resentment toward those whom they found in the land when they returned, a concentration of energy on rebuilding the edifice that represented their former glory, the Temple, and a religious fundamentalism that excluded any that could not keep the law. The end result was a corrupt religious system and the rise of the Pharisees. Don’t tell me that can’t happen again.

What it took to move away from this desire for “normalcy” was Jesus. The full embodiment of God on earth demonstrated that the old way of doing things wasn’t going to work. The metaphor might not mean much today, but you really can’t put new wine in old wine skins.

Let’s look at this as a wonderful new opportunity. Let’s forget normal and think new. Let’s ask God to do a new thing in each of us and all of us. We can’t let this opportunity go to waste.