About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Struggling With The New Normal     


Despite the fact that the Covid pandemic isn't quite over as some might want to believe, we're attempting to get life back to pre-pandemic normal, but can we?  What is normal anyway?  Who defines normal when normality is a relative concept?  What normal is to you may not be normal for me.  What normal was in 2017 would have been considered abnormal to my father who died in 2001.  Beyond that, is our normal God's normal?    


Historically speaking, normality is in constant flux.  It varies from generation to generation, from culture to culture, and nowadays, from year to year.  This ever-evolving normality can be confusingly disruptive, as we are experiencing in our world today.


I question if life will return to the exact pre-pandemic normal that we knew.  Most employees, for example, went to work back then.  Covid closed lots of workplace doors, leaving many working at home in their online office.  Asking these people to leave home and go to work is no longer acceptable to everyone.  Adjusting to this new normal has become a workplace challenge. 


It was recently announced that 48,000 high tech jobs are being cut from the workforce.   Microsoft is cutting 10,000 jobs because things have changed, and that due to artificial intelligence.  The irony here is that which software developers have created is now pushing them out of the marketplace, but that's the new normal.    


Church has not escaped Covid's curse.  Many churches no longer exist.  Others hope to get back to what was once considered normal, but life seldom returns to normal after such a catastrophic crisis.  It's to our benefit, then, to ask ourselves what lessons can be learned from Covid and how to proceed in this new normal.  History tells me that such questions are seldom asked, so answers aren't found.  The only lesson we learn from history is that we don't learn any lesson from history, so we fumble our way into the future.  Life becomes circular, no different than the Jews circling aimlessly in the wilderness where they eventually died.       


The Book of Acts provides one way in which church can survive a new normal, which for them was salvation being open to the Gentiles.  This new normal became contentiously divisive, and that had to end if church was to survive.  After what I would think was a much heated and exhausting deliberation, church leaders prayed.  We read the outcome in Acts 15:28.    


"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:"


Questions were asked.  Debates were intense.  An answer was found.  God's will, His normal, was implemented.


Is it time for church to learn some lessons from recent history?  Can we ask our questions, have our debates, and find some answers.  Can we seek our Lord and come to the place where we say it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us as we move into a new normal?  It's a difficult task, but a necessary task if we are going to survive the next crisis that's knocking at our door.  Consider the countless implications if the war in Ukraine explodes into a World War, which is quite possible.  That would plunge the world into a crisis that would make Covid look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison.  How would church respond to that?  We would certainly have to live God's normal in that situation.  If we can't find our way out of the present crisis, how will we find our way through the next crisis?  I think it's time to face the struggle as we find God's normal in the midst of this new normal. 

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