May 8 Devotion


 Recently I read the line, “Freedom does NOT mean you get to drill a hole in the boat we are all sitting in.”  As you may have guessed, the line has to do with Covid-19 precautions.  This last week a store manager was physically attacked for asking a woman to wear a mask she already had hanging around her neck; a DNR/Park Ranger was pushed off the dock into the water while asking people to socially distance; a Family Dollar security guard was shot and killed after asking a woman to refrain from entering the store without a mask; a bus-driver was spit upon for asking a rider to put on a mask pre-boarding as per policy; a police officer was spit on after asking a person to put on a mask.  

Every instance named above resulted in felony-level charges from assault to murder.  Each alleged perpetrator had defenses that ran from “it’s a free country, to you disrespected my wife, to it’s unconstitutional to make a person wear a mask.”  A non-legal way of defining such “assault” would be, “if I don’t like someone or some policy, I will do something to hurt someone.”  Such assaults are considered felonies because the attitude is dangerously destructive.
As someone who has sometimes been asked to put on hospital masks, and gowns, in health-care settings for over 30 years, I am perplexed.  There are a myriad of conditions where the least little virus or bacteria could infect another and kill them.  I’d never want that on my conscious, so I happily mask up. There are also some highly contagious super-bugs I’d never want to take home to those I love.  So, I happily put on the garb.  Further, I follow a man who was willing to wear a crown of thorns for me.  I follow a man that girded himself with a towel and washed his followers feet and called me to serve my neighbors too, and love them as myself.  
Grace UMC’s leaders will be creating a re-opening plan.  Likely masks will be in that plan.  Masks are uncomfortable.  But, I’ve always considered wearing a mask a privilege–because there are times in medical situations when only health-care workers, immediate family, and pastors are allowed—sometimes only with masks.  Right now, we are dealing with a virus so transmittable that even immediate family and pastors don’t have the privilege to visit in-person in hospitals even with masks.  The risk of doing harm is that high.
As we go through this Covid-19 experience, I ask us to breathe, close our eyes, and imagine Jesus wearing the crown of thorns, (or as some have described the crucifixion, “putting on our sin and shame”).  Then, when we open our eyes again, all the little precautions we are asked to take won’t seem so difficult.  In fact, we can put on a mask and whisper, “Jesus, I do this for you, and those you love.”  Every precaution, every frustrating Covid-19 nuisance that takes away a bit of our daily freedom, “Jesus, we do this for you, and those you love.”  
God’s Peace and Wellness, 
Pastor Roger