October 30, 2016

Wearing a Mask

Once again the circle of seasons brings us to All Hallows Eve or Halloween. Honestly this is not one of my favorite holidays. Too much craziness in the name of ‘fun’ can happen. Plus, I really don’t like people in masks because I cannot see their face. (I also have trouble with people wearing mirrored sunglasses for the same reason-I cannot see their expression or eyes.)
Don’t we all wear masks, though? We put on a persona based on what we think are the expectations of the people we are interacting with. I might put on the mask of educated author when presenting a talk about my books. In my family, I present myself as the ‘good mom’, ever ready to help with homework. At work, the mask might be ‘efficient worker’ and at school I might be the ‘diligent student’. Those are all parts of us, and they help us comfortably hide the parts of our personality we don’t want the public to see.
Even with God we sometimes try to wear a mask, forgetting conveniently that God sees right through and past any mask we might attempt. For God we can be the ‘faithful church worker’ or the ‘daily pray-er’ or the ‘efficient pastor’. Those may all be correct and parts of us. However, what God sees is “beloved child”.
In the First Letter to the church in Corinth, Paul says that all attributes of the church (and of each of us) is important. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians: 12: 15-26)
All of our personality parts are important and valid, and need to be affirmed. It is easy to try to hide the things about ourselves that we don’t like by constructing a mask that is ‘acceptable’. All Hallows Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day and All Souls Day (October 31, November 1 and 2, respectively) is a time to remember the ‘saints’ of the church. ALL the women and men who have gone before us in the faith, not just those who happen to have the title ‘Saint’ attached to their name. You are a saint of God, and I am a saint of God. Let’s celebrate the image of God in one another and try to put down our masks sometimes.

What is your favorite mask? Can you develop a mask that shows you as a beloved child, a saint, of God?

This week try to look beyond the masks others have constructed to see and love the real saint of God. 

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