Earlier this week I was in the church building, toiling over the next Sunday’s sermon. The other staff members were at their desks, tapping away at their computers.
Then a person appeared at the door. A lady, of average height, with her brunette hair styled in a way similar to how many others wear it these days. She spoke, and her voice came out with the consonant sounds accompanied by vowels raising in that pleasantly Canadian way. We engaged in a little bit of chit-chat, the nice kind of small talk that doesn’t really say anything. Then she said, “Well, I have to be off. See you later.” And she was gone.
One other thing about her: very appropriately, she wore a mask that covered half her face.
After she left, I thought to myself: “Who was that?” I had no idea. Since she seemed to know exactly who I was, I felt embarrassed to ask her. Maybe she’d be insulted that I didn’t recognize her. Maybe she’d think that I’m a lousy pastor who doesn’t know his own parishioners.
The better thing for me to have done is be honest. “I’m sorry, but with that mask on, I’m not sure who you are.” There’s no shame in this; it’s part of our new reality, and we need to get used to it. One thing I want to do is what I hear people in the healthcare field do: wear a big button that has a picture of themselves smiling without the mask on. Maybe we all should think about doing that.
It’s a good thing that no matter what mask we wear, our Creator knows exactly who we are. There’s no confusion there! It’s lovely when both people in a relationship recognize each other; since God knows you, it’s your turn to turn to the Lord and say with the Apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” In that divine connection, there is no need for masks, and there is no need to pretend that you’re anything other than what you have been made to be.
How refreshing is that!