By the Rev. David Olson
As much as I enjoy big events and occasions, the truth is I always look forward to things going back to normal once they are over. Even after Christmas, which is a wonderful time of year, once the presents are opened and the traditions have been meticulously enacted, I’m ready to drag the tree out the door and box everything up and put it all away. Big events and special occasions are fun, but there is something comforting and relaxing too about just going back to our normal lives and routines.
This year as the calendar turns to January and we start a new year, I am feeling this way more than ever. Not only am I ready for Christmas to be over, but I’m ready for the pandemic to be over, I’m ready for our people to come back to church, and I’m ready to live my life the way I used to. I’m ready for things to go back to normal.
But the truth is, we can’t just go back to normal. We can’t go back at all, actually. That’s just not how life works. Each day is a new day, with its own new joys and new challenges. And as much as we may want to go back, we can’t. We must start with exactly where we are today and move forward.
I’m reminded of this reality when I read the Epiphany story of the wise men visiting the young Jesus a few years after his birth. We will celebrate this story in worship on January 2nd. These wise men had come seeking a new king to learn about him and honor him. Little did they know that this encounter would change their whole lives.
Herod had asked them to come back and report to him about where this new young king was. However, once they visited Jesus and his family and realized who he was and what he meant for the whole world, including them, they knew they couldn’t go back. They couldn’t go back to Herod, and they couldn’t go back to their lives the way they were before. Everything was different now, and so the scriptures tell us they took a new way home. They had been changed by witnessing what God was doing in the world in Jesus and it meant they had found a new normal in their lives.
And it is the same for us. After the events of Christmas, as God came to us in this child named Jesus, everything has changed and there is no going back. God is doing a new thing and everything that has come before now has passed away. Today is a new day and we are living in a new normal.
To some that may sound scary but to me it sounds hopeful. It means that despite the fact we must start with this day we are in, and with whatever circumstances we find ourselves, and move forward, we do so knowing we have a God who loved us so much he was willing to come and be with us in Jesus and change our lives through his forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Our new normal is in God’s hands and always will be. Onward we go.
Image found at: https://boylegospelchapel.ca/sermons/god-seeks-out-wise-men/