Resume Normalcy but Not the Old Ways
By Rev Arnold Chow
July 2, 2023
Church life is “resuming normalcy.” From July, as soon as the “Prelude” for the worship service begins, the church will only admit latecomers after the Call to Worship and Corporate Prayer if seats are still available in various sites. Those who cannot enter the worship halls in time will have to attend the next worship service. (Please do not complain to those who serve. They are only trying to maintain an environment for brothers and sisters to focus on worship.) The church will also resume passing around offering bags during the time for Tithe and Offering.
Besides, a simple breakfast can finally be provided again in the Side Hall at the Dawn Prayer Meetings in July. This really is much awaited.
Nevertheless, “resuming normalcy” does not mean “resuming the old ways.” You may be aware: some of the shops have changed; many restaurants are using QR codes for ordering instead of waiters; there are fewer and fewer chances to use banknotes and coins; some companies keep the work from home arrangements; video meetings are still popular; and masks? It is not yet time when everyone would feel safe not wearing them…
It is true that “resuming normalcy” does not necessarily mean “resuming the old ways.” Moreover, society’s political and economic situation has changed. The whole world is faced with the slowing down or even shrinking of globalization. “Resuming normalcy” really means stepping into whole new horizons, just like the overall theme of NPAC’s Five-year Plan: “Steadfast Mission in New Horizons.” The church also “resumes normalcy” in new horizons. Although Christians are sojourners in this world, we still need to be down-to-earth in living our lives.
“Resuming normalcy” really means stepping out of the habits during the pandemic and intentionally making your way forward. Now that the pandemic is nearly six months behind us, I found myself busier than before. This is no doubt because there is more business to deal with both inside and outside the church. It is also because activities have been newly introduced during the pandemic, which we do not usually have before. After the pandemic, if they are not properly reviewed, time will be used up unconsciously. “Resuming normalcy” means re-ordering our routines, letting the Lord remold our spiritual lives.
In the sermons of this quarter, we will read from Ezra 7 to Nehemiah 13. Both Ezra and Nehemiah were in the Second Temple Period. The 70-year captivity after the fall of Judah has ended, and the returning Jews have also rebuilt the temple. Separately, the two embarked on the homebound journey of “resuming normalcy” from the contexts of their own sojourn.
Ezra rebuilt the faith of God’s people so that they could live once again on the holy land. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, turning rubbles of the holy city into a livable homeland. More importantly, both were dedicated to rebuilding the holy lives of God’s people. During the re-ordering, they faced challenges from inside and outside: the people of God were far from steadfast; the enemies ridiculed and attacked them; there was pressure to compromise their faith… But they all the more depended on God, tackling emergencies pragmatically and praying to God for His gracious guidance at the same time.
Brothers and sisters, it is time to get up and come back to church to rebuild our church life in new horizons. The road to resuming normalcy would not be easy. There may be unexpected interruptions – difficulties within and hindrances without. But if we are observant, we will find episodes that God listens to prayer, God cares, God remembers, God is merciful and God helps by His hand of grace. May we more deeply experience God on the road to resuming normalcy!