The New Normal, Part I
So we’re in the church season called Eastertide (tide = time), but why does Easter really matter? Well, for one reason, it’s the one (or two) time of year some people come to church; and we can identify with them, right? We’re used to singing “He Lives!;” it’s a time of celebration, joy, and worship in a special way. Easter is the foundation of our belief system based on Christ’s death and resurrection. So having a church that is “closed” for Easter is definitely out of the ordinary for us.
And looking at the Easter narrative in scripture, the final straw between Jesus and Caiaphas that set Easter week in motion was not something that Jesus said, it was something he did. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. John Chapter 11 has the whole story, but here is the part that Easter week revolves around.
Scripture John 11:43-48 (NLT)
Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation...”
When the sun came up on the first day of the week after Passover, there was a commotion. The body of the crucified Jesus was missing. Then, there were reports of some sightings of Jesus; and the followers of Jesus came out of hiding and had the audacity to say, “You crucified Jesus, but God raised him from the dead. We have seen him alive.”
Now Caiaphas is just a footnote in history, and you may be asking what that has to do with us today. Well, in a word… everything. Because there is a little bit of Caiaphas in all of us, there is a part of us that wants to preserve things at all costs. We often want God to either help us or get out of our way (at least I do); but Easter tells us otherwise. Easter created a whole new normal. So who wants to be just a footnote?
Would you agree that so often our greatest regrets are associated with trying to hang on to something that turned out to, ultimately, be rather unimportant? Why or why not? Can you think of a time when you refused to surrender to God because you wanted what YOU wanted? Think about in what ways you are responsible for the outcome of that decision. What are they?
Lord, we know you bless us in small ways every day, and we know we overlook so many of them. Forgive us for that, we pray. But we also have concerns; none of us have never lived through a “pandemic;” a time when all these schools, restaurants, businesses, and churches were closed down for the greater good. It is new for us and our leaders, so we ask your help in giving our leaders the guidance and wisdom they need for making decisions. And we ALL need your presence, Lord, that our hearts will be drawn closer to you and your light will shine through us. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen.