2020 has been a very different kind of year. We have had to do everything in ways that are different, including church. For many churches, services have been online only, for most of the year. For others, while there may have been indoor services, they were done at smaller capacity with social distancing and face coverings in place. Ministries in our churches have been done differently, if at all. Many of us may be saying that we don’t understand all of this, we don’t like it, because it is not what we are used to. It’s not the way we want church to be. It’s different!
Even Christmas is different this year. Kids are still having pictures taken with Santa but now they’re separated by plexiglass barriers. Christmas shopping is still taking place but shoppers are standing in lines on stickers spaced 6 feet apart on the floor, while everyone is wearing a face mask. Many stores are offering curbside pickup so that shoppers who choose to can avoid entering the stores at all. Christmas pageants, Christmas concerts, and many other similar traditions are done via livestream or not done at all. And church services, candlelight services, and other forms of Christmas worship are, in many cases, happening only online. Christmas 2020 is not what we are used to. It’s not the way we’d like it to be. It’s different!
As I reflected on all of this, I was reminded of an episode in season 1 of the television series, The Chosen. In this episode, there is a scene in which Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him. Peter doesn’t understand why Jesus would choose a tax collector to be one of his followers. When Jesus reminds Peter that some people didn’t understand why he chose him as a follower, Peter responds that “this is different” because Matthew is a tax collector. Jesus replies, “Get used to different.”
We don’t like “different.” And, at least when it comes to the things I have mentioned here, we don’t want to “get used to different.” We want things to be the same as they have always been. We want things to be what we’re used to. But maybe God is telling us that we need to “get used to different.” Now, I’m not saying that God is telling us that things will stay the way they are now, in this time of a pandemic. But maybe he is saying that we need to be willing to do some things in a way that we haven’t before. Maybe, when it comes to how we do church, how we do ministry, even how we share our faith, we need to “get used to different.”
When this pandemic is finally behind us, some things will go back to what we consider “normal.” Other things may change. We may find that God wants us to do some things in a different way. But no matter what may change, no matter what may be “different,” there is one thing that will never change. And we can see that in Hebrews 13:8, which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The way we do church may change. The way we celebrate Christmas may change. But what doesn’t change, and never will, is that Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago. He came as a tiny baby, born in a stable in Bethlehem. And, as a man, Jesus would give his life so that our sins might be forgive, so that we might have eternal life. That will never change!
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.