Well, we are officially over a month into this whole new world of ours. We're stuck at home, it's no longer weird to wear a mask and gloves out in public, and we are finding new routines. It's no longer stressful to figure out how to set up a live worship setting to an empty room and how to most effectively use our email marketing and website technologies. The idea of a date night out meaning Door Dashing something to your living room rather than going out is normal. Despite the uncertainties, we have found a new pattern of normality. The new normal as we like to say when things change drastically.
But what is normal? The way we expect things to be done is probably the most obvious answer to that, but there has never been normal. Certainly, if you read the Bible there's nothing normal about fishermen being charged to take the greatest news in the world to the whole Bible, tax collectors and sex workers being welcomed (and placed front and center as an example) into the kingdom of God. That wasn't normal. A shepherd boy fighting giant (some people say goliath was nearly 7 feet tall!) but he was a lot bigger and stronger than David and there was nothing normal about fighting a big heavily armed war veteran with nothing more than a slingshot but that ended in a TKO for the underdog. A zealot sitting with the prince of peace is not normal. There is nothing normal about the messiah being born in a manger and certainly nothing normal about the resurrection. For Bible-believing Christians of the world, we live by a mantra that nothing is normal and when nothing is normal there is the evidence that God is at work.
The Bible says "don't be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." In other words, God wants to give us a new normal in the way we think, in the way we move, even in the way we address negativity and fight battles in the natural realm. But we are citizens of heaven, the Bible declares, and when the 24/7 news wants to shout loudly that everything is in peril and everyone is at fault we need to be the voices that shout even louder the greatest news the world has and ever will know - God, creator of all and ever will be has declared victory over all of deaths forces through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No virus will win the day. Depression and anxiety might win today, but Easter Sunday is a sign that they won't win forever. Addiction doesn't have to define you forever. Your mistakes, your shame, your guilt, your doubts, your fears can be left in the empty tomb of Jesus so that you can be boldly live as a person of the light. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Elevation Church led by Steven Furtick released this unbelievable song for Easter this year called Rattle. This song is an absolute rock and roll banger. I invite you to listen to it as a devotional today.
The tag for the song says: When disease says die, God says live. When the cross says die, God says live. How prophetic and true those words are for a hurting and scared world. When I hear those words I think of the medical professionals that work tirelessly in places where they are exposed to this awful virus. Not just doctors and nurses but the cleaning companies and janitors. They, like Jesus before them, exemplify the best in humanity by sacrificing oneself for the greater good of the world. Such sacrifice is not normal, but as we know, abnormal activity is the evidence of the spirit of God.
Let's protect those on the front lines and the most vulnerable by doing our part and staying home. But let's go even further than that. Let's do something hands-on. If you have access to the materials I invite you to make cloth masks and drop them off in the bins at church courtyard and we will take them to the police, nursing homes, and the Chagrin Falls Park Community. We must protect the most vulnerable among us - it's the Jesus way of living. Instructions on how to make one (and wear one most effectively) can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
This week in church we are beginning a new series called Unafraid - Living Courageously in Uncertain times. I feel this message series is going to do amazing things for people and I hope you'll share it with friends and family. In the face of death, disease, and isolation the only normal thing to feel is fear. But, the Bible reminds us that there isn't anything called "normal" and that's a good thing. So let's be the people of hope, light, and resurrection for a world that is fearful and that begins by trusting in God's movements in all seasons of life. Triumph and trial alike.
Stay in touch with us. Let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org how you've felt the presence of God in this new normal or how we can pray for you today.
Hear now these familiar and well-loved words from the Easter hymn "Because He Lives" and say AMEN with the confidence that God is with you because God is already in your tomorrow.
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives"
In Christ's service,
Nick Gliha, Associate Pastor
"A Family of Faith, Living in Hope, Serving in Love"
Get a preview of our newest series and set reminders for each of the services by visiting www.chagrinfallsumc.org/unafraid
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