The New Normal
Last week I met someone for dinner for the first time in forever. I walked into the restaurant and there was not a mask in sight, which honestly looked and felt weird. Ready or not, we are headed towards a “new normal” of post-pandemic life as we unmask, take back to the friendly skies, and gather in person for worship. What will this look like? Here is some good news. A March 2021 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center provides some interesting hints. It seems one of the by-products of the pandemic is on average our faith has been strengthened. Among their findings:
- Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say their religious faith has grown stronger because of the pandemic, while 4% say their faith has been weakened; the remainder say that their faith has not changed much, including those who say they were not religious to begin with and still are not.
- While Black Americans are among the groups least inclined to return to religious life as normal in their congregations right now, they are the most inclined to say their own religious faith has grown stronger because of the pandemic.
Personally, I know I have a stronger faith as we move towards post-pandemic life. I pray more often than before the pandemic. Mentally a full week of Zoom calls is taxing so I am now more vigilant to take at least one day a week off. I have valued reading a lectionary to follow the Church calendar and I take spiritual retreats more often. The disciplines of fasting and tithing, and the sacrament of communion now have a deeper meaning. As my wife told me one day, “you’re a different dude!”
Nobody’s life has been affected more drastically by the pandemic than those who live in the condition of poverty. We are commanded by God to never forget them, so let us be sure to pray for their recovery. As cities come back to life, we will be there to resource and strengthen leaders on the front lines.
Whatever the new normal may be, we know we can count on God. Life will always offer good and bad times, yet the key is to always keep our eyes on Christ. Unlike human beings and the institutions we create, we stand on the promise of Hebrews 13:8 that in a changing world we can trust our unchanging Lord.
*Image by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images