For nearly a year, we’ve had COVID. For nearly a year, there have been limitations in gathering and movement. Finally, 9 months in, there was news of a vaccine. Then there were multiple vaccines. Now we wait.
Still, though, we often catch ourselves asking, “when will this be over?” Or the question that many are asking, “when can we get back to normal?”
Daniel’s words really aren’t that different than ours. Yes, he’s talking about the Israelites. Yes, he’s talking about Jerusalem. “When can we go home?” “When can we return to the new normal?”
Just as the generations that passed in Egypt, breaking free of the practices left behind. Then leaving Egypt with new practices to learn and form. Those fleeing Egypt, “when can we go home (Egypt)?” “When can we go back to normal (slavery)?”
The words that Daniel received, “yes, Israel will go back.” “Thinks will seem to be positive and even (the new) normal.” “Then disruption again.”
The promise of return for the Israelites (though not really for Daniel) was not exactly all positive. There would definitely be loss. There might be gains. They just couldn’t judge the return to the before, because they were different.
Many people have spoken words similar to Daniel’s about “the people” not listening to God, and not following God’s commandments. The words were often spoken against the US culture as it appeared to diverge from its so-called Judeo-Christian roots. Whether it was a particular disease primarily affecting a “different” culture/people, or whether it was COVID or some other virus, or the internet, or rock music, or free love, or what have you.
Those who often spoke those words forgot important words: mercy, justice, grace.
When we read the words of Paul to Timothy, many often conclude with something like communism, capitalism, consumerism, any of a number of things. “They” don’t want to hear the “truth”. These words weren’t Paul’s to Timothy for the world. They were Paul’s words to Timothy about the church.
There are a lot of things the church is hearing, but doesn’t want to. While the church has been huddled in homes and buildings, God has been moving. While phrases such as, “the new normal” are becoming, well…normal. Everybody wants whatever the new normal is going to be to happen already.
What if God doesn’t want us to “normalize”? What if God wants to shake us free of our (the church’s) complacency? What if we have 70 more years to go? What will you do?
Lord, we don’t know what is coming. In Lent we are called upon to strip away that which is not for you. Help us, Lord, to follow your will in this. Amen.