Pastor’s eNote: God is Trying to Tell Us Something

To the dear friends taking and posting photos of people who aren’t wearing masks…A Lent message worth considering. If it is more blessed to give than to receive, does that include empathy and compassion for the ones we assume are our enemy? What does Jesus teach about how we are to treat one another, especially strangers who may be angels in our presence? Why is blessing others such hard work? Because it’s sacrificial sometimes.

Do we recognize all of the angels that may be sent to us? In this time of testing, here are some ideas to challenge you because I think God is asking us to “grow through what we go through” and be a living lesson to others of what we have learned. Set aside all preconceived notions for a moment and read this with the loving sense of correction intended. I am not picking on anyone. I am sharing what was put on my heart HUGE this morning.

I’d like to challenge everyone to make a commitment to deal with these issues offline, in person in the moment rather than making this an online campaign that really does not do anything constructive. If you see something, say something in the presence of the people directly involved. Posting a photo does NOT solve the problem but it may put that person/people at risk. (Web professional speaking. I have seen this go wrong 100 different ways from cars being keyed to death threats. No joke.)

When you have concerns you are well within your rights to walk up to the young person and POLITELY say “Sir, you are required to have the mask over your nose.” And if they apologize and put it over their nose, a thank you is affirmation that goes a lot further than any snippy response. When we affirm the compliance we are expressing our gratitude. When we offer a snippy, “well I shouldn’t have to tell you…” you devalue the person and frankly, yourself in the process. I have been on the receiving end of such an exchange. Let me tell you, God forgives faster and better than some of the people I’ve encountered of late, and that is my comfort. God forgives our repentant mistakes regardless of whether others do.

If you point out a mask below the nose to an employee in a business and their response is not satisfactory, ask to see the manager and have a polite, mature discussion regarding your concerns. It would be most helpful to ask the manager if they are willing to work with their employee to make a plan that allows them to continue to work without putting them in a difficult position of being forced to do something that is personally difficult.

After experiencing a very ugly and gut wrenching event at the local post office in which a man in a hurry lamb basted a friend of mine for not wearing her mask or son doing the same, (the son has serious medical issues including poor eyesight and deafness and needs to be able to see his mother’s face to communicate) I have noticed a serious issue.

We are losing our humanity to a shame drunk culture shift. And we need to stop and reverse this trend now. We have forgotten how to live as a community. Isolation has taken its toll.

If the man in too much of a hurry to talk with my friend would have, he would have learned something about her and her son that may have changed how he viewed her. Instead he wrote the story in his own head and believed it. He saw her as his enemy, and an enemy to small businesses. He outright claimed she and her son were responsible for closing small businesses! Wow. She and her son are just trying to live and do what needs to be done every day. I know it doesn’t stop people from making bold assertions about what she “should” and “shouldn’t do”. But we’re all doing the best we can and it would be great if we treated each other with that in mind.

For those who find masking easy, count your blessings. I do not. I struggle daily. But I keep going. I’ve nearly passed out. I’ve been nauseous and faint. And I had COVID-19 which took months to recover from so it could be that which still makes it tough.

But what about people we don’t know? Do we assume they’re in perfect health without any issue and should be able to do what we feel they should do? Do we write a story in our mind and believe it. Do we assume they’re just being a total jerk and should be fired immediately for their non-compliance? Or do we advocate for the manager to find other ways to use this employee or provide breaks enough for him to step away and breathe? Figure out what will make it possible for them to keep their job while abiding by mandates?

Does it matter? It sure as heck should!

If you decide to step in, step up.

This is the season of Lent when we focus on the things that may separate us from God. How does this behavior separate us from God?

Would Jesus take a pic and post it? Or would Jesus engage him, learn his story and try to help? Did he see the woman at the well and go tell the disciples all about what she did wrong? What happened as a result of Jesus engaging with her? She brought a whole community to him! That’s a goal worth pursuing!

I know lots of people make giving up chocolate or caffeine their Lenten sacrifice, but I challenge everyone this year to give up selfishness for selflessness. Not thinking less of one’s self, but thinking more about others. I know many who claim they are mask shaming for that very purpose, because they are thinking about others.

Which others are you thinking of? If we are to “do no harm”, then we are to do harm intended or unintended.

Have you ever seen a photo someone posted complaining about the lack or improper position of a mask and instantly are focused on how you feel rather than the person in the pic? Was your response anger and resentment toward them, someone you have never met and whose story you do not know? What if you were sent to them, to be a blessing?

IS GOD TRYING TO TELL ME SOMETHING?

Something to consider as we continue to wade through a time of testing is how we are engaging in order to improve our community. Are we engaging one to one with others to learn about them and why they struggle? Or do we struggle with the walls we throw up to protect us from reaching out to people we do not understand?

How can we be led by Spirit to reach out to others, since we are called to make disciples and reaching out is how it begins? And when we do, how would our family, community – and WE – be changed? Jesus gave us the example of the kind of hard work it takes to help others. It was radical then, and it’s radical now. Extravagant love and grace is not natural, it is supernatural. Grace is a blessing we can give to others. And as we give to others, so may we receive.

Jesus came not to be served, but to serve others. We are living in a “wake up call” time in history.

Are we awake yet? Are we hearing God’s call to repent, turn back to him and follow Christ? 🙏

With hands to the plow,

Pastor Theresa