BY REV. CORY L. KEMP |
Before you and I go any further, I need to make a bit of a confession.
The professional football season began full force here in the United States this week, and I am still savoring my team’s victory. More so, football is a fall tradition, one among so many that could have just as likely been canceled because of the pandemic.
Which isn’t to say it looked or sounded the way it usually does.
When the players came out onto the field, they were greeted by silence because there were no fans in the stadium seats. Incredible, almost miraculous plays by both teams were met with the same. Mistakes? Silence again, except for the players’ personal rebukes in their own minds.
In post-game interviews, each player, when asked, said it felt weird, especially when a play went really well; they didn’t quite know how or if they should celebrate. The mutual relationship between players and fans is powerful. In the fans’ absence, the cues of support, encouragement, and downright excitement, simply didn’t exist. One player said he needed to go within himself and look to his teammates in a new way, to gather in what he usually received from the fans.
They hoped it would get easier.
I share that hope for them, for all of us as we move into another season living with the immediate and longer-term realities of this pandemic. But you will not hear me describe our current circumstances as our new normal. Nor do I want to dwell wistfully on the idea of going back to normal.
Because I hear people brush aside their sadness and grief over the upheaval in their lives, in the world, brought on by something unseen, uncontrollable, and completely unyielding to human will or reason with a flippant, “Oh well, it’s the new normal.”
Because I hear people talk about normal as a yearning for the familiar, the known, whatever they thought was stable and sure. You and I want to receive comfort and stability wherever we can, especially in our daily living.
And I know this is hard, really hard on all of us. My hope, my prayer, is that this gets easier for us, without compromising our traditions, our feelings, our pleasure in everyday living in the ways that are familiar to each of us.
And even in this hard time, I feel compelled to offer you a challenge.
My challenge to you today is to consider who God is and what God looks like to you living in these pandemic times. Is God your new normal? Is God your back to normal? Is God normal at all?
Speaking to the burgeoning Christian Church in Greece, the author of Acts is also speaking to you and me: “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” Acts 17: 28-30
As untraditional, confusing, frustrating, and downright aggravating as this pandemic is, you and I still live and move and have our being in God. We are still God’s children.
While it is human to want to frame God with our imaginations, when that temptation rises, we are operating from a limited viewpoint, seeing only what serves us in the moment. And yet, God understands that we don’t have the full picture; but God is the full picture and always includes us.
And God gives space to repent, to let go of our limited perspectives of former or new normal, to claim the fullness of living what is right now. For in God we all live and move and have our being.
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.