This week, I took my son to school for the first time since March.
He bounced with energy when we told him he was going back to school. He sat patiently in the car as we made the five-minute journey from our house to the drop-off line. He wore his mask, even though he has struggled with it in the past. He bursted out of the car, once we stopped, like a horse running in the Kentucky Derby.
He was ready for something that felt … normal.
The mere fact students are back to school, this week, has made this week feel the most normal since those last weeks in March when time began to stand still and we began to go on this ever-bumpy ride of a pandemic. It was the first time when things began to have the appearance of a regular routine.
So, immediately we start to think are we out of the woods? No. We still have a long ways to go before we return to any regular connection to what life was like before.
What we are doing is adapting and moving forward.
That is really what life is all about. We face a challenge that comes before us. We learn about it. We consider the possibilities. We adapt our basic practices and we move forward. That is how you thrive in life. You make adaptations to the plan and move forward.
When we refuse to make adaptations to our plan and how we live life together, based upon current realities, is often when we fail to adequately respond. We will convince ourselves that we are being true to ourselves, but when we did deep into our hearts and mind we will find that what drives us is not being true to ourselves but a reluctance to appropriately reflect upon where we are and make the necessary changes.
Too often, that is what defines the church. We recognize that things are not like what they used to be, but we hold out hope that if we keep doing the same things we have always done everything will improve. There is something to admire about that, but is it really helpful to keep doing things the way we always have if it is not working?
I believe it is not. However, we keep pressing on hopeful that logic will not prevail and we can keep things as they are.
Why do we do this?
For one, we don’t like to deal with change. It is not the act of working through the process of change that we struggle with. It is the loss of an activity that was once a vital part of who we are that we have time accepting. So, we will resist change, because we don’t want to let go of that activity. In the midst of change, we must celebrate the fruitfulness of what came before even as we recognize its season may be coming to an end.
Also, we are afraid to fail. That fear will prevent us from considering new ideas, because the mantra “what if it doesn’t work” will hinder our thought process. When fear consumes our ability to consider new ideas, we are limiting the mission of God in our midst. We will fail, from time to time, to be the church God calls us to be, but that should not prevent us from thinking outside the box and making the adaptations that are necessary.
Think back, for a moment, about my son and starting a new school year.
He is a child that requires everything to be the same. He needs consistency. He needs everything to be the same today as it was yesterday.
Yet, he has been brave to try something new this week. Why? Because it meant he was moving forward and doing something familiar, even if it was in a new form and expression.
Imagine if the church was just as bold to try something new to reach people for Jesus with the love of God.