09/21/2020 That’s Different – By Pastor Katie

I’m not sure if it is generally Midwestern or specifically Minnesotan, but “That’s different” is a common response to something one deems a little ‘off’ or strange; the phrase can also be used as an ambivalent comment on something that one doesn’t actually like—often reserved for new haircuts and style choices. Rather than offending and saying one dislikes something, one might say “well, that’s different.”

Having grown up in Minnesota, I never realized this was a thing—I thought it was just a common practice everywhere. It wasn’t until I was on my pastoral internship in central Washington I realized this wasn’t the case. 

“That’s different” is a way of commenting on something we find a little weird, or a Minnesota-nice way of saying we don’t really like something. 

Last Sunday was Rally Day, the official kick-off the church program year, our small groups and youth faith formation activities resume, and people come back to worship after a summer away. This year, leading up to Rally Day, as I checked in with families and had so many conversations about how to navigate life and the start of school in the time of Covid, I heard so many people say “it’s different.” 

At Rally Day, I heard many more comments about how “different” things are right now. Often with a twinge of pain, frustration, loss of normality, and discomfort. 

I saw an article that said most Americans actually start our “New Year” not on January 1st but rather we mark our year with school calendar. As we begin a new school year, many people are feeling the weight of Covid-19 and its toll on our day-to-day lives because it feels like the New Year should have more hope and an optimistic outlook.

Rather, our New Year, has been filled with big changes, hybrid schedules, mask-wearing, physical distancing, and many uncertainties. 

So many things are different this fall. I fully recognize that, and I feel the pain of the many things we had looked forward to that are now very different. Last fall, we had very fun and successful events like the Connections Fair and Fall Festival, I had hoped and planned that we’d continue building on the momentum of big events like this. Now, things are, well, different. 

School. Work. Worship. Social events. Even little things like going to the grocery store is completely different than nine months ago before we knew anything about Covid-19.

Different doesn’t always mean bad. Different doesn’t have to mean bad. 

The staggering death tolls (nearly 200,000 Americans as I write this) and the ongoing uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 those are both bad, both heartbreaking, and both incredibly disheartening. 

I feel deeply the response “That’s different.” Not only is everything different, but I don’t like most of it because I wish it were like normal. The ache for normality is so strong, especially in the face of so much uncertainty. 

But I’m here to remind you, and mostly myself, that different does not automatically equate to bad. 

If fact, sometimes different opens the way to new possibilities, new ideas we would never have imagined when in the grind of ‘normal’ life.

I imagine that Good Friday evening once Jesus’ followers had laid him in the tomb and returned to the Upper Room, what did they say to one another? 

“What just happened?” “What is next?” “I don’t know, but that sure was different.” 

The Gospel accounts don’t paint the picture of followers who knew their savior would be raised from the dead three days later, it felt like they had lost their teacher, friend, savior and all that had been normal. 

That’s not where the story ends though, is it? We know how the story ends, or maybe not ends, but at least how the next chapter begins. 

Three days later, early in the morning, the women went to the tomb…the stone had been rolled away…the grave cloths were folded…Jesus Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Resurrection is always around the corner. New life always finds a way. 

That is my hope and prayer for you this ‘New Year.’ That different would still lead to goodness, to new life, to renewed hope. 

As I said to the Mom’s Connect group, 

In spite of long drop off and pick up lines, in spite of unknowns and navigating new normals, in spite of technical difficulties, in spite of the disappointments, in spite of all of the things that are “different,” I hope and pray for grace and goodness this year for you, for your families, for our schools, for our communities, and for our world.

Different doesn’t have to mean bad, and even in the face of ‘different’ times the resurrection promise of new life and new hope find a way. 

Peace, 

Pastor Katie


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