BY REV. CORY L. KEMP |
Perhaps, like me, as we move through this pandemic one day at a time, you have noticed a few things that haven’t caught your attention before.
Who paid attention to paper products before? Toilet paper came front and center in the space it left behind. Apparently, people are still talking about it because they can’t find their brand or the price they are used to. Coupons don’t seem to be part of this discussion.
Zoom showed up and showed us who we are at home while in community, including Holy Week and Easter worship services. I could almost smell the sugarcake and coffee as I joined with people from across the country and around the world, united in these traditional Moravian practices.
And, as we’ve begun to venture out into our brave, newly-designed world, we are noticing who is, and who isn’t, wearing face masks. It’s a major source of consternation and conversation across back yard fences and on social media.
Increasing government mandates, local, county, and state-wide, support the use of face masks and social distancing as the most simple and effective way to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus. You’ve probably read or heard about the mask/distancing combination and its positive results during the flu pandemic of 1918.
And yet, we do possess that inconvenient gift of free will, the ability to each make our own decisions, amid the reality of communal living on a relatively small planet.
In this truth, what I have noticed is how much we sometimes want to take that free will away from other people; in the name of controlling our own fear, it is very human to want to tell other people what they should do or shouldn’t do.
In this truth, what I’ve noticed is how much fear rises in our voices about wearing masks for each other, and for ourselves, to keep each other safe and stay safe. When you or I see someone not wearing a mask, it is almost a reflex to think they are threatening our safety.
It sometimes really feels as if they are, doesn’t it? Those ancient survival instincts kick right in. Since there is nowhere we can take flight to escape this situation, we jockey straight into fight mode to secure and protect ourselves and those we love.
But we are not our ancient ancestors.
We have more language choices than safe or not safe. We have more decision options than fight or flight, even when we are most afraid.
As people of faith, we have the knowledge of God’s presence and the assurances of lovingkindness and provision. In Matthew’s gospel, we receive some simple, effective guidance that can expand how we talk about our lives, and how we shape our experiences during this pandemic: “Jesus spoke to the disciples and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27
What does it mean to take heart? It means there is more than personal survival at stake. It means that our faith has a chance to grown, to give us courage and be our strength.
To take heart is also a reminder that faith in God is rarely, if ever, a safe choice, not if you are honoring that still small voice within you and following its guidance. Faith usually places us in situations that can help make us more than the fear that has bound us, kept us small, limited our power to use the gifts God has given us to build the kingdom of love and light which we have inherited by grace.
However it is with your soul today, friend traveler, take heart. God is with you.
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.