A New Yorker cartoon on March 30 showed a man and a woman sitting at a kitchen table, he’s looking at his phone while she asks, “Are you talking about the new normal of an hour ago, or is there a new new normal right now?”
That’s kind of where we are right now. Every day my morning news feed brings some new warning or advisory, some statistic or projection. And so something that seemed settled on Monday is up in the air on Tuesday. At the church we’re working hard to sustain our worship and keep feeding people on Saturday. We have to make sure the building stays secure and in good repair even though it is entirely empty most of the time. We’ve had to spend time on things as mundane as how to collect the mail. As our recess lengthens and its conditions change the leadership has to respond more quickly and deliberately than we Presbyterians may be comfortable or familiar with.
Zoom video conferencing seems to be one of my new normals – I have nine online meetings scheduled this week including staff and session. And I might predict that video conferencing will become a more regular part of our church life. It does seem like there might business that we can dispatch that way instead of always needing to meet in person. At the same time there are definitely things that will always be best in person and I’m learning what some of those are too.
I might also predict that when we receive the all-clear sign, our final new normal won’t be like the old normal, nor should it be. When the worst of COVID-19 is over I hope that we don’t rush too quickly and uncritically to reestablish old patterns, policies, programs and procedures. It will be worth taking the time – and not just for or in the church – to wonder about the things we used to think were vital but that we didn’t really need at all. What are those things we aren’t missing? And what are we missing most genuinely? Might this disruption even call us to new ways of being the church that we will want to continue?
One of the lessons of Easter is that God is always at work creating new life out of calamity, opening us to new possibilities, changing our perspective. When we emerge from our tomb of shelter-in-place, I’m confident that God will have created something new for us too.
This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday but this year I’m just going to focus on Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem – the palm portion. We’ll save the passion part for Good Friday (see the worship notes below). The text is Matthew 21:1-11. And we will celebrate The Lord’s Supper and you and read about how that will work below too.