Today church buildings around the country, and I suppose around the world, will be filled with worshipers wearing masks.
If you think it looks odd, you ought to be the one preaching from the pulpit and look at an entire assembly of masked men and women.
There’s been much controversy, especially among Christians and religious conservatives, about wearing masks. The efficacy of wearing masks has been discussed, debated, denied and of course, politicized.
To all Christians, we offer this spiritual advice: “No masks.”
Now before I’m raked over the coals for this controversial comment, hear me out.
It occurred to me there’s irony about Christians wearing masks. Before COVID-19, I’ve known many Christians who wear masks. Emotional masks. They’re hurting. Emotionally. Physically. Relationally. Financially. Or maybe spiritually. But they hide their hurt, mask their pain, and suppress their feelings so no one will see, or know.
The Bible instructs those in God’s Family to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). But I can’t bear my sister or brother’s burden if she or he is concealing it. I’m not suggesting that we ought to indiscriminately and inappropriately divulge the titillating details of our problems to just anyone, or everyone.
But there’s a time, and place, and a person to whom we need to take off the mask. To get real. To seek counsel. To find someone who’ll help shoulder the burden. Soothe the pain. And offer help, hope, and healing. To a great degree, my church family ought to be a place where I can take off my mask.
In the words of the poet William J. Crocker:
If this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where do I go to cry?
If this is not a place where my spirits can take wing,
Where do I go to fly?
If this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Where do I go to seek?
If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard,
Where do I go to speak?
If this is not a place where you’ll accept me as I am,
Where can I go to be?
If this is not a place where I can try to learn and grow,
Where can I be just me?
Church. Let’s make it a place and a people where no masks are worn. Spiritually speaking.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman