As I think about the year ahead, probably like you, I wonder what it’s going to be like on the other side of the pandemic. I seriously doubt we’re gonna wind the clock back to January 2020 and everything returns to normal, just like it “always was.” I doubt that very much.
In fact, I don’t want it to be like it “always was,” like the old normal. I want a new normal. I went into the pandemic worn out by what looks to me to like identity politics. Politics became—maybe even replaced—religion, and people were and really still are firmly dug into and planted in their ideologies with minds closed off not even agreeing to disagree. Just being disagreeable!
I’d like to see our culture become decent and compassionate for each other at a greater level than it has been historically. I’d like our culture to get closer to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King vision of the Beloved Community where “all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it.
Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”
I like to see communities working toward that!
I like to think of Jesus as being that kind of community organizer with you and me—if we’re “following Jesus”—becoming that, too.
What does that look like?
Well, it’s up to us to figure that out.
I think a lot of it starts with knowing your neighbors.
Do you? Do you know your neighbors?
We were talking on Zoom in the Monday night Bible study this week about noticing our neighbors out walking. Families being families out on the roads and streets. Even in the cold weather! I’ve seen families out walking and riding bikes together in all kinds of weather since the start of the pandemic in my old neighborhood in Madison and now in the apartments where I live in Florham Park.
Well, I’m going to ask the hard question again, do we know our neighbors?
Chances are pretty good that we don’t.
Maybe it’s time to reach out. Even just driving by, let’s stop and put the window down and introduce ourselves! Mask and everything! I’ve tried to do that as I stop in to get coffee at the Coffee Potter or at the Pulled Fork Bar-B-Que place (good food there, by the way) up in Long Valley. As I venture out in the Fairmount area when I’m here at the Community House, I’m trying to get to know some people in the community.
It’s hard! I know it is. It’s been hard for me to get to know just the few of you that I’ve been able to get to know coming to church in person for that short time before we stopped doing in-person worship again before Christmas. It’s hard putting names with foreheads and eyes only. I’m sure it’s not just me, but that’s hard! At least it’s a start.
Maybe when we re-open we could have a big cook out at the Community House and true to the name, invite the whole community out to come together again. What a great way to reach out! We would get one of those big bounce houses for the kids. I might even climb in there myself just for old time’s sake. That would be fun!
Anyway, the new normal is something I’m thinking about on this gray winter day at Fairmount Presbyterian Church Community House. What does it look like on the other side? On earth as it is in heaven?
That’s up to you and me with a little nudge from the Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit, come.
Grace and Peace,
Assorted muttering and armchair theology from the interim pastor, Rev. Scott Foster.