April 17 – A New Always

We hear the phrase all the time, maybe too often. “The new normal.” We’re five weeks into a new normal. And when this normal ends, whenever it ends, there will be a new “new normal.”

In this time of pandemic we at once grieve death and loss, feel pain and sorrow – and find ourselves disturbed by the changes in our daily routine.  The profound and the petty confront us with equal force, it seems.

After a lot of profound, I have been thinking about the petty.

I had my work routine down. It was normal. I knew what to expect. It was comfortable and predictable. Mondays were bulletin and sermon preparation days.  Always a Monday night meeting. Tuesday continued sermon prep and then getting ready for Wednesday morning Bible study and Thursday night Faith Acts.  Wednesday was staff day. And so on and so on. Oh, there were hospital calls, lunch meetings and phone calls and drop-ins.  But it was all so predictable. And so comfortable.  I liked my old normal.

The new normal is nothing like that and I can’t say much more because it’s not yet normal and seems to want to defy normal.

We like normal.

Normal is not a biblical word, but I the Bible knows about it.  In the New Testament we hear the word “always” fairly often, and, not always, but frequently it has to do with those things we normally do.  The Greek work is pantote – all the time.

Occasionally Scripture uses always to describe our old normal.  Paul reminds Timothy of those who are always, normally, learning new things but never gaining any wisdom (2 Timothy 3:7).  He reminds Titus that the Cretans he serves are always, normally, untrustworthy and lazy (Titus 1:12).  Our old normal is not so good.

But mostly always refers to a new normal to which the life in Christ calls us – always praying, always rejoicing, always showing concern for one another, always hoping, always being patient, always forbearing, always encouraging.

They say there’s no going back to the old normal.  The new normal will be different, maybe not so comfortable.

Whether it’s a month or two or more away, maybe it’s time to get ready for the new normal. Looking back to the words of Scripture, allows us to look forward to a new normal – to some old “always behaviors” – that just may make for a new normal so much better than that old normal with which we had grown way too comfortable.