The students have returned.
I see them walking down the street to the high school. Bags on backs.
Hands in pockets. Shuffling from their parking spots to the school building.
What is normal?
The students look the same as a year ago, when they last shuffled down the street to another school day. But they are wearing face masks. And they haven't seen this street in a year. What is normal? As we continue to work our way through the year-long Bible reading plan, we find ourselves in Jeremiah this week, the second in a long series of prophets we will be covering in the coming weeks. Jeremiah struggled with the idea of 'normal.' God called Jeremiah to bring a message to the people of Israel that God didn't like their 'normal.' Jeremiah called them to turn away from idols and cultures that didn't put God first in their lives. Jeremiah warned of consequences, including losing their Temple and their land, if they didn't turn and put God first in their lives. Then the Lord's word came to me: House of Israel, can't I deal with you like this potter, declare the Lord? Like clay in the potter's hand, so are you in mine, house of Israel! At any time I may announce that I will dig up, pull down, and destroy a nation or kingdom; but if that nation I warned turns from its evil, then I'll relent and not carry out the harm I intended for it." Jeremiah 18:5-8 What is 'normal' for us? Is returning to our lives from a year ago the 'normal' we want? Or are we getting an opportunity to find a new normal, just as Jeremiah offered a new normal to God's people? A potter's wheel is a powerful tool for making beautiful and useful vessels for eating and storage. It spins and spins and spins, and the talented hands of the potter can guide and bend the clay to all sorts of shapes and textures. God offers to shape us into beautiful creations that can help God bring justice and mercy to the world. Or we can turn away and follow other pathways, which may lead to God pulling us off the potter's wheel and starting over. What is our normal, and what is God's normal? I suspect God's normal isn't shuffling along with our heads turned down. God promises a life of joy and peace, faithfulness and patience, and so much more when we turn to God to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit. "And after I have dug them up, I will again have compassion on them and restore their inheritance and their land." Jeremiah 12:15 God promises restoration. As we seek restoration in our own lives, let us turn to God's normal, and be made into beautiful, useful vessels that bring God's gifts to the world.
Pastor Anna-Lisa Hunter
March 25, 2021