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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, February 1, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Hebrews 11:13–22

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial. (NRSV)

After nearly two years of managing through the COVID-19 pandemic, these are some words that I never want to hear again: abundance of caution, positivity rate, pivot, quarantine, vaccination requirements, mask mandates, and social distancing. I was tempted to add “new normal” to that list, but early in the pandemic someone explained it wasn’t accurate to say “new normal” because “now normal” would be more fitting. Yet as we near the two-year anniversary of COVID-19, I am wary of calling anything normal—new or now. Almost daily I hear people lament about getting back to normal, but I’m not sure what that means. Does it mean returning to a life we have left behind?

While there are many things to which I long to return, there are certainly things I’ve grown to appreciate about this period of life. We’ve learned people can be productive working remotely, and the flexibility has helped with work-life balance. We now have a national community of fellow worshipers through livestream technology. Zoom has allowed people to attend classes and meetings they otherwise would have missed because of childcare issues, health concerns, or work demands. “Zoom” and “livestream” certainly are words I’ve grown to appreciate during this pandemic, and it’s helping me imagine a different future—one that is even more expansive and inclusive.

Perhaps this is what the writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to do. Look backwards as evidence of God’s presence in that which was good, holy, and sometimes difficult. Look forward in faith to a future in which we can be assured of God’s presence. I’m not sure there has ever been a period that we can describe as normal. Rather, let’s hold onto what is good and embrace the future in which we know that God will be faithful.

God of all ages, don’t let me be so fixated on yesterday that I forget to look forward in hope. Let my heart see evidence of things past as your promise of faithfulness today and tomorrow. Amen.

Written by Andrea Denney, Executive Director of Operational Ministries

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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