Over the last two weeks, we have all begun to make some significant adjustments to the way we live. Students are working on AMI packages or in a virtual classroom. College students are at home and completing the semester online. Teachers are working from home, and many people are working on adjusted schedules. With unemployment heading up, some are not working at all.

With the indigenous poverty that is a part of Phillips County, there are a lot of people who are finding it very difficult to feed their families. Kids being home from school only serve to heighten the dilemma. It took some sound advice from the Food Bank of Arkansas, some amazing coordination of our leadership, and some dedicated volunteers to make the first-ever drive-thru distribution a reality. There even may be a potential for additional deliveries later this month.

No one could have believed that something like this would have the potential to change everything the way it has so far. Nearly every aspect of our lives has altered almost overnight. The Covid-19 Pandemic has shaken us as a community, state, country, and world. As hotspots begin to appear closer to our state, people are tempted to start to look at persons from adjacent states as sources of potential infection instead of people.

The NBA has suspended play for the rest of the season. NCAA College Basketball, both men and women done. Major League Baseball canceled spring training and push back opening day for at least two weeks. College baseball is considering playing the season in the fall. Even the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are postponed until 2021.

As we all observe the recommended social distancing protocols and limit our incursion into the broader community, we can’t help but feel isolated and out of touch. Many of us are spending unprecedented amounts of time with our immediate families. When our time together increases our potential for friction escalates. Teenagers are reacting to this by becoming more and more nocturnal. There is also the potential for us to reconnect with our family in new ways.

One of the ways we have begun to restore some sort of normality is a virtual connection. I have received a plethora of Face time calls from my colleagues, and last week I had virtual coffee with two of my dearest friends. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed that hour of seeing and hearing my friends and sharing our challenges with our new normal. I have attended multiple meetings on the Zoom platform and three or four webinars.

So much of my day to day work is now in the virtual world. Worship, daily devotionals, and messages to youth are exclusively virtual undertakings. When I saw this coming down the road, the most challenging piece of the puzzle was how to keep people without computer access in the loop for weekly worship. I found a software program that would convert our MP-4 video format to DVD. This week the DVDs were ready for delivery before worship time was over. If this much of my job were to change in a typical year, I would be hard-pressed to accommodate such a radical shift.

The major shift in our world brought on by the Corona Virus is far-reaching, and the full scope of this remains to be seen. One thing is for sure when things settle down when something approaching normality is eventually achieved; it will undoubtedly be a new normal. We may very well look back, fondly on “the way things used to be.”

I want to point out to you that this is the level of change in the religious system that Jesus created. The early church did not worship in buildings other than the homes of other Christians. When persecution ramped up in Rome, the church went underground into the catacombs. Even as our religious landscape morphs on an almost daily basis, you have to admit that the issues that were so close to dividing us have faded quietly into the background.

We all long for a return to worship in the sanctuary, and yet we all realize that it may be a while in coming. Holy Week and Easter are just around the corner, and we have yet to decide how to navigate the complexities of today’s challenges and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It’s like first-century Palestine in twenty-first-century America. Jesus' resurrection changed the entire religious landscape. You must admit that our current reality is anything but boring. Connecting with one other and connecting with Christ is more important than ever before. Each day is a new adventure as we follow Christ into the new normal! Resurrection is coming!

Pastor Kenny