Preparing for New Normal
Pastor Eugene reflects on the spiritual lessons he has learnt over the past few months.
My two sons, Zachary and Iain, have waited eagerly for this day. After a hiatus of a few months, they can finally visit the public playground again. I’m also grateful, because this means they can now expend their boundless energy outdoors rather than in the confines of our living room.
This Friday, June 19, marks the beginning of phase 2 of the country’s reopening. Sports facilities, including playgrounds, will be allowed to open. Shops and restaurants can also reopen their physical outlets. Small-group social gatherings of up to five people will be allowed to resume. Having spent the past few months apart from our friends and loved ones, I’m sure we’re keen to see them again.
But as much as we appreciate the easing of some of the Covid-19 restrictions, we also realise that it will not be life as usual. As long as we live in the shadow of a global pandemic, we must be prepared for a “new normal”.
Will there also be a new normal for our spiritual lives? This unusual season can be an opportunity for a “reset” of our Christian walk. As some semblance of ordinary life returns, it is timely to reflect on what God has been teaching us and to take these lessons to heart. Here are two things that I’ve learnt over the past few months:
1. Church community matters
It has been said that we don’t realise what we have, until it’s gone. Not being able to meet regularly as a church has been challenging. This pandemic has reminded me to be more grateful for our gatherings as God’s people. Coming together on Sundays for corporate worship and fellowship is a blessing and gift from God. It should not become a mere routine that we take for granted. I love how the apostle John expresses this yearning to meet with other believers: “I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.” (3 Jn 13-14)
Being apart, however, has moved many of us to be more intentional about connecting with one another. It has been heartening to witness the proliferation of phone calls, messages, cards, letters and online meetings. My care group is meeting more frequently now than we did before we were confined to our homes. Attendance at our monthly prayer meetings has significantly increased.
I hope we will continue to be deliberate about building relationships in the body of Christ. While we are yet unable to gather as one congregation, it is important for us to stay connected with one another through other means. Consider joining a CG, if you are not already plugged into a group. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our CGs. And if you know of anyone who isn’t in a group, why not invite them to join yours? May God help us to keep moving towards one another for mutual encouragement, for the good of the church.
In the meantime, I also hope we will not get too used to watching the services online. I get that viewing a livestream from the comfort of our homes may be convenient, but it cannot be a substitute for gathering as a church. As much as I am grateful for how technology has enabled the ministry of the word to continue, I am also careful to not let technology redefine the church. So, let’s long to gather again!
2. Spiritual foundations matter
Tough times are clarifying—they expose what we are trust in and hope for; they reveal the foundations on which we have built our lives. This pandemic has caused much disruption and hardship. It has dashed our plans and shaken our confidence in the things of this world. Perhaps this has prompted some soul searching on our part.
In the midst of all this uncertainty, having strong spiritual foundations has become even more vital. Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Mt 7:24-25)
What foundation have we built our lives upon? The events of these past few months have led me to examine my own life, exposing false confidence and misplaced hopes. I have been reminded of how Christ is the solid rock on which I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. Indeed our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Psalm 112 points to the security of being in Christ: “The righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.” (Ps 112: 6-7)
Therefore, let’s continue building our lives on the foundation on Christ alone. Be mindful not to neglect spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading and meditating on God’s word, and fellowship with God’s people. These means of grace help refresh our hearts daily with the truths of Jesus Christ and His gospel.
And as we look forward to the weekend, let’s also prepare ourselves for corporate worship. We will be taking a short break from Luke’s Gospel and starting a four-sermon series on Psalms 38 to 41. These psalms of David teach us radical dependence on God. This Sunday, we will hear about justice, mercy and forgiveness from Psalm 38. Surely, these are timely themes as we contend with the social injustice in the world.
Looking further ahead, our monthly prayer meeting will be held on Friday, June 26 at 8pm. Do join us to pray, as we commit ourselves afresh to the Lord. We will be meeting online via this Zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/prayermeetingjun2020. You can also scan this QR code:
Our next Quarterly Congregational Meeting (QCM) will be on Sunday, July 5 at 11am via Zoom. All English Congregation members are encouraged to attend. We’ll be hearing about how God is working in our church, including welcoming new members and introducing our new interns. Scan this QR code to access the meeting:
Our next membership class, Church Matters, will be conducted online over three consecutive Sundays, from July 19 to Aug 2 (11am-1230pm). Scripture calls Christians to join with other believers in a local church. Church membership is good for our spiritual health. To find out more about becoming a member of GBC, please contact me at email@example.com.