From the Editor—Friday Reflections

God With Us

The Friday Reflection by James M. Kushiner

December 11th, 2020

Mosaic Christ Pantocrator, Palatine Chapel in Palermo By Jose Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, CC BY-SA 4.0


n this horrible year 2020, many are wondering what the New Normal will be. Some are anxious about an imminent Great Reset, which would be, it seems, a sinister global and ungodly New Normal.

When a society eschews direction from Above, it might, for example, systematically remove the Ten Commandments from courthouses. Or it might deny that church services are in any way "essential" to the nation during a pandemic. Apparently, the New Normal is systemic secularism.

Systemic secularism was given a boost when commercialism claimed the last vestige of sacred time, the Lord's Day. A sea-change took place with, among other things, the opening of shopping malls on Sunday, and now with the internet, buying and selling takes place 24/7.

"Buy without ceasing" seems to be the exhortation of choice, for citizens to keep "the economy" strong and our churning appetites sated. But living by bread alone leads to hunger.

For Christians, the exhortation to "pray without ceasing" is inspired by the recognition that the Lord of the Sabbath is also Lord of the weekdays. For the Lord created the world and all that is therein and we live in his vineyard 24/7. To forget the exhortation to constant prayer is to become secular, except perhaps on Sunday mornings.

Christians can only "reset" away from secularism by returning to the Ancient Normal, which is not susceptible to fashion or the times since it is defined by the vertical dimension, the divine, which is timeless. The Normal for the Christian is the timeless mind of Christ, which we know to be real, active, personal, and accessible to us as a gift of God.

When Man fell by rebelling against God and thereby losing communion with the One upon whom his existence depended, he was left with a spiritual hole, a cavern, which is not so much a real thing as it is the absence of something vital to our being. It is the absence of the life that flows from the Creator himself. Sin is death because it cuts us off from God, in whom alone there is eternal life.

The gift of the God-Man Christ, whose Nativity we celebrate on December 25, extends to man a bridge back to the Father, through the Son whose death cancels the penalty of sin against us. And that's not just a paper transaction, a mere rubber stamp on our debt that says 'Canceled.' It facilitates true union with Christ, a provision for communion with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

This vertical New Normal is accessed through prayer in the Name of Jesus, worship using the Psalms and other inspired songs of the Bible, and reading and meditation on the Word of God—these are all suffused with the mind of Christ, the Word. To make them our daily bread brings us closer and closer to the example of Christ, who lived in perfect communion with the Father.

In 2020, the suppression of church services by the state should be a wakeup call, not primarily for resisting the state (although that can be a godly action), but more to ask ourselves, are we ready for the time of trial? Have we been so formed by worship, prayer, and study of the Word (including memorization) that day in and day out we will be able to endure should the state at any point restrict religious services, even shuttering churches? How will we carry on the Faith, in our homes, underground? The Lord promised to be present with even two or three gathered in his name. How are our domestic churches faring these days? Are they ready for something like this? Are our daily spiritual habits strong? Or are we mostly buying without ceasing?

The year 2020, however it might be described, is fundamentally another Year of Our Lord, Anno Domini. He owns the times and the seasons, and all authority on earth is rightfully claimed by him.

Every year is the best of times and the worst of times. Christ is risen, he is our life, he hears our prayers, and he is with us till the end of the age—while sin runs amuck among the children of men and the present days of the prowling devil are numbered.

The year 2020 is an opportunity to keep looking up, for our redemption draws near. Christ rules over all. They just don't know it, yet.

Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,

James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James

—James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.