The Mask Has Become an Issue

By Rev. Keith Turman | 2021-07-23 | 3 min read

Actually, it has been an issue from the beginning. And I get it. I have a love-hate relationship with my mask.

I love my mask. I love the one that makes me look like a medical worker. I have one that makes me look like a duck. Ross painted me a “Black Lives Matter” mask. Chan bought some flowery masks that were too big for her, so now I have masks with pretty flowers. I love pretty flowers.

I hate my mask. Every time I talk, my glasses get all fogged up.

I love my mask. Since my glasses fog up, I talk less and listen more.

I hate my mask. Because you can’t see that I’m smiling at you.

I love my mask. The flu and common cold virtually disappeared—a valuable lesson and a wonderful reality that saved thousands of lives.

I hate my mask. The mask has been an issue in my country from the beginning. Now it has become an issue in my church.

On May 13, the CDC’s Rochelle Wallensky announced that vaccinated people are good-to-go. We can put our masks back in the sock drawer. Unless of course, we’re boarding a train or a plane or a city bus. Some of you have approached kindly, expressing your Sunday morning desire to leave the mask in the sock drawer, right next to your vaccination card. I feel you. And the science backs it up. That’s why Rochelle turned us loose. Almost 100% (99.74) of hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people. And those numbers are on the rise. The Delta variant is spreading rapidly, and the Delta variant is much nastier.

Some of you have approached with a different attitude. The ushers at both services have reported your frustration and anger, and either your unwillingness to stay for worship, or your unwillingness to keep your mask on once you’ve reached the pew. I get it. It’s hard to breathe with those things on.

But this is why I’m wearing mine, and it has nothing to do with the science. Since May 13, I have spoken with many parents who are afraid. Their hearts ache to be in worship and their souls long for the fellowship, but their children are unvaccinated. One father said, “We will respect the church’s decision to make masks optional, but we’ll probably have to stay home.” Other parents have shared that our willingness to wear masks will help them take that first step back to in-person worship. A member gratefully approached on Sunday. It was this member’s first time in worship since the pandemic closed our sanctuary doors fifteen months ago. “I am afraid. I am unvaccinated because of my health—doctor’s orders.” This member came back to church because we were willing to wear our masks for one hour.

I love my mask. It means that my whole church family—vaccinated and unvaccinated, healthy and immunocompromised, adult and child—can gather in sacred space and lift voices in praise to God. Wearing my mask becomes an act of hospitality. John Wesley might even call it a means of grace. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s no longer an issue. It’s a joy to once again see the people I love.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” –Ephesians 5:1-2

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.

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