Who is that masked man?
Do you remember the name Karl Wallenda? He was a high-wire artist famous for his death-defying walks between skyscrapers and across huge gorges.
I mention him because I identify with him right now. As I try to lead this congregation through the smorgasbord of crises that 2020 has dished up, I often feel like I am precariously balanced on a high-wire, trying to move us forward while avoiding a calamitous slip-up.
For instance, masks. I am preaching a series called “Behind the Mask” based on II Corinthians which deals, literally, with the mask that Moses wore and our temptation to put up a spiritual facade. It seemed a timely metaphor given that all of us are wearing masks wherever we go. Alas, some have interpreted that message to mean that I am “anti-mask.”
Well, truth be told, I am anti-mask—in the same way that I am anti-colonoscopy. I don’t like either of them but that doesn’t mean you don’t go ahead and do what is necessary.
This whole mask thing is so polarizing. Back to Karl Wallenda, it’s like weights being put on opposite ends of the balancing pole. Some view mask-wearing as a necessary act for public safety and, perhaps more nobly, an expression of love for those who are vulnerable. On the other end of the pole are those who feel like mask-wearing is an expression of expanding governmental overreach.
I suppose I find myself somewhere in between those two positions…which is probably why I feel a bit precarious right now.
Regarding our worship services, let me repeat what has been said before. Please wear your masks when inside the building, if able, even when you are singing. I say “if able” because I have what my doctor calls an “asthmatic pattern.” After a while, I need a breath of air. I know there are others like me and your decision will be honored. But if it is only a matter of preference, I’d ask for the sake of others…as an act of love…would you slip that thing back on, please?
The other key issue for assuring safety is separation. Beginning this Sunday, we will open the balcony, not to add capacity but to increase separation. I hope that will be an encouragement to those of you who want to return but are still feeling a bit nervous.
I realize that for some, these words will tip too far to the right and, for others, too far to the left. Which means I’m probably keeping my balance as I seek to lead in these crazy times. I’d urge you to seek to do the same…and to join me on Sunday.
PS—We NEED reasons to remember to celebrate right now. I’ve got a great one for you. On October 11 at 3:00 p.m. we will celebrate the ordination of Julie Hawkins and Rachel White, a truly momentous time in their lives and in the life of our church. Save that date.