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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Our revealing masks we wear

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Todd Walsh

Todd Walsh

 

I wear a mask at work. It has been required by the Minnesota Department of Health for months now. Most of the time I don’t even notice I’m wearing it, but sometimes it is a nuisance and irritation. It can be warm. It can get stuck in my mouth. It slides down now and again.

But I realize the mask is a small price to pay for giving an added measure of safety to myself and others. I have been wearing one when out in public for a few months now. Most people have ignored it. Some early on took a second look. And I’ve heard a couple of unhelpful comments.

My phone is able to read my pulse and oxygen saturation. So every now and then I’ve checked to see what the mask is doing to me. I haven’t been very scientific about it. There is no change in either my pulse or oxygen saturation, but the mask sometimes makes it harder to shed body heat from the face.

There is, however, one dramatic change brought on by wearing a mask. Communication is more of a challenge. People can’t see my mouth move when I talk or my facial expressions. No smiles. No frowns. No grimaces.

It also muffles the voice just enough to notice, and several people have said that it is harder to understand me because they can’t see my lips move. I have never appreciated how much of our hearing is based on seeing someone’s lips move.

It has, however, been fun to see people speak through their masks without saying a word by personalizing them. Some have colorful designs; some name interests, causes or passions. We are learning to adapt and express ourselves through this new attire.

We are not the first to speak through the masks we wear. Consider the Bible passages that sound familiar to my topic.

Colossians 3:12 encourages readers to change their behavior. That new behavior would create new life and new ways to looks at life. Our clothing becomes the example.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

A few words later in Colossians 3:14 the theme pops up again.

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).

Please note that the results of this spiritual attire have nothing to do with the individual. They have everything to do with relating to and living with others, and the goal of these desired results is a healthy community filled with life — the life that God gives. The life of the Christian community lives and thrives on each individual giving of themselves for benefit of others.

There is another passage that gets right at the heart of Christian identity. Again, the theme is what we wear — sort of. The theme shifts to not what we wear but who we wear.

Romans 13:14 tells us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” A mother and child walked by the dining room at Thorne Crest Monday and got my attention. The child wore a Superman shirt, but I noticed something behind him. He had the cape, and he even strutted every few steps. He was into the part. It was impressive and hilarious.   

To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is not to wear flowing robes and sandals. That will only work for a few more months in this climate. To put on the Lord Jesus Christ is to live life for others. It is to be so filled with life that it must be shared. It is to even in adversity draw near to the life God gives and rise above the troubles of this world.

May you in all of these days and for all of your days strut the stuff of our Lord Jesus Christ as you wear his life in your words and actions.

Todd Walsh is director of spiritual care services at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community in Albert Lea.