“The new normal”. It’s a phrase which has become widespread as people try to predict what a world upturned by COVID19 will look like. It contains a real tension as we find ourselves caught between the desire to return to normal life as we knew it and the opportunity to reset to a new way of being in the world.

No doubt this season has changed us and our priorities and shown us issues we humans need to tackle: inequalities, healthcare, racial injustice and our environment to name just a few. So how will we re-enter the world and how will we engage with the “new normal”? This is a time to consider what we as Christians need to change personally and how we can serve and speak the gospel of Jesus in this new world. How can we, to quote Boris Johnson, “build back better”?

During August we will be exploring Jeremiah’s letter to exiles, which you will find in Jeremiah 29. It is a message of hope to a displaced and disoriented people. God speaks, telling them not to passively tread water but to actively engage in their world even as they long for their situation to change.
God speaks and says, “build and plant”, trees and houses. (Jer29:5).

Every crisis has the seeds of opportunity buried within it and those who thrive as the crisis pass are those who have actively and intentionally invested and planted during the time of difficulty.

This week our theme is “Plant that tree”. We will be asking what we can do personally so that we may rise strong into the next season. Like everyone we are uncertain of what is to come but we can prepare as we look at what we want to dump behind us and where we want to get stuck in. We must ask God and look at what he has given us to contribute to the world – our passions and gifts.

So, what tree will you plant? What investments will you make for your relationship with the Lord, your family and friends, church, work, society? How will this season shape and sharpen your calling for Christ in the world? We have a unique opportunity to discover what kind of trees we will plant in this season believing that they will flourish as the next season comes.

Exile was the time for the great prophets whose words nourish and inspire us today. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel planted visions of hope for the future and revealed with clarity the promise of Messiah.

So …
What are you planting now in your own soul and spirit for what’s to come?
Where are you sensing God calling you to do as we serve and speak for him in the world ahead.