What is “normal?” I think first of the town of Normal, Illinois, home to Illinois State University, where I earned my undergraduate degree and which was originally a “Normal School” that trained teachers and so gave the town of North Bloomington a new name.
But most people probably think of what is usual, typical, or expected. (The word “normal” apparently originally referred to two lines that intersected to form right angles and thus conformed to the norm of a carpenter’s square.)
Currently the word “normal” is being used a great deal to refer to the time and circumstances before the coronavirus, and the corresponding expression “new normal” is being used to refer to what is expected to be the usual situation in the virus’s wake. That distinction might be questioned from a Christian standpoint, however.
God created the world very good (Genesis 1:31). That “normal” was changed by humankind’s sin (Genesis 3:1-24). The “new normal” soon after had pestilences, as there is the coronavirus now, and as there will continue to be such pestilences, until the “new normal” of the restored world that believers will eternally experience in glorified bodies free from the threat of such pestilences
Neither are such pestilences, nor is the Church’s continued operation in the face of them, unprecedented. Some things do not change, such as the Triune God and His Church (Psalm 102:26-27). Not only are the wicked warned by God’s unchanging will and wrath (Proverbs 19:21; John 3:36; Mark 9:48), but the faithful also are comforted by God’s unchanging kindness and grace (Isaiah 54:10), for the sake of His crucified and resurrected unchanging Son, the God-man Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:8).
We constantly adapt. Communication technology has changed dramatically even in my lifetime. Family and friends, classmates and coworkers, and members of our congregations move away and pass from this world to the next. Whatever “normal” God in His wisdom permits, He also enables us to get through, by means of His timeless Word and Sacraments.
The ways and means of historic, Biblical Christianity are not obsolete and continue to have a place in the “new normal” that exists until the final “new normal” returns us to the original “normal”. In the meantime, we both join creation groaning in eager expectation for that restoration (Romans 8:19-23) and are certain that nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore.
You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.