Throughout the ages, there have been changes in people's lives. Most of these changes occur naturally as time goes by, while others have a sudden impact on our lives, as individuals as well as communities. The phrase "the new normal" has become popular during this year of our Lord 2020 concerning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new normal is that we wear masks when we go out, we keep a two-metre distance from other people, we are not allowed to congregate, sport stadiums are empty, travel has been curtailed, and church services have been severely restricted or cancelled. There are so many changes affecting so many people everywhere.
If ever "the new normal" described a previous change in church life, it was surely during the Reformation of the early 1500s. In Germany, Martin Luther was a priest, teacher, and preacher of the church, but he was not happy. He was especially disillusioned with the church's practice of selling indulgences for the forgiveness of sins, arguing that money cannot buy God's forgiveness. He was convinced that peace with God was through faith:
Romans 5:1 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
He became so convinced of this truth that he decided to let his conviction be known to the general public. On October 31st, 1517, he posted 95 statements on the doors of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany, thereby initiating changes to the way of worship in that place and ultimately around the world. He was the great German Reformer, although others like John Hus had preceded him.
For the people at the time, this was a new normal, for sure. They were used to things the way they had been for generations, and now all of a sudden, there were changes.
There have been so many changes in our church lives as well during this period in our lives. We were used to going to church every Sunday, we congregated with people we know, we worshipped and sang hymns, we preached or listened to sermons, we taught or went to Bible classes, and suddenly it was all over. Some of us watch services on YouTube or television, but things have certainly changed. We cannot visit people in the long-term care centres or hospitals at the present time. For those of us who were involved in these activities, it is most discouraging. Some of us are really concerned about the way things are now. But we are assured that God is with us. As Isaiah told the people of Israel, so he tells us:
Isaiah 41:13 – For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, "Fear not, I will help you." (NKJV)
Do you feel overwhelmed by the present situation? Do you feel at loose ends, wondering how this will all work out? Be assured, God is with us:
Psalm 46:1-2a – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, Therefore we will not fear. (NKJV)
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the assurance that You are with us and that You will hold us in Your hand during these days of uncertainty. We thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Who Is On The Lord's Side" (Lyrics)