As we approach Easter, we realise that life as we know it has changed. The world is now a village, with all of us threatened with a deadly virus. What can we do with this situation? How can we use it well?
To be clear, I do not believe that COVID-19 is God’s way of getting us to turn our lives around. Contrary to some popular belief, God did not cause this pandemic to teach us a lesson. But a crisis of this nature does offer us a way to work out new ways of living – the New Normal.
How does God work in a world in lock down? How does God work when people are trapped on cruise liners? How does God work when we become suspicious of other Australians from different states?
How do we define community? How do we stay in touch with people? We are working out ways to do that. Using the telephone is becoming much more important. Many more people are using the internet than ever before.
A crisis of this nature shifts our perspective. It makes us see what we have overlooked, taken for granted, assumed; what we have done through habit, as business-as-usual. Not that we needed a wake-up call.
At Easter time, followers of Jesus celebrate a special New Normal. We celebrate that when all seemed lost, when God was dead and buried, God came back to life. And through this, God offers everyone a New Normal, a way to never-ending life.
At the Penguin Uniting Church, we usually start to celebrate Jesus rising to life at Easter by gathering at dawn on the beach, sharing breakfast together and then erecting a flower-covered cross. But the New Normal will be erecting the floral cross as a positive sign of God’s offer of new life.
This COVID-19 crisis offers us time to reflect on what is normal. It offers us a time to throw out what is not life giving. And it offers us the opportunity to develop new more loving, life giving ways of living with God.
Things will eventually return to normal. Whatever that may be. But a commentator called Dave Hollis says on his Face book page, “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to”.
Rev Brian Cole, recently retired Resource Minister, Cradle Coast Uniting Churches