Masks are on my mind.  The masks we wear to protect and love our neighbors in the midst of a pandemic. The masks that my children are looking to purchase for Halloween costumes. The masks that we often find ourselves wearing as we try to make sure we “keep it all together.”

Masks serve a purpose whether it be protection from aerosols, the “ticket” to get candy at the neighbor’s house, or a tool to help us “save face.”

However, no one can wear a mask 24-7.  Many of us know the relief we feel when we get in our vehicle, our dorm room, or our home and can finally take the mask off.  My kids often don’t last all of trick-or-treating with their masks on. The masks we wear to try to prove to ourselves and the world that we “have it all together” can become a heavy weight to bear. 

One of my favorite stories in scripture comes from John chapter 4. In this story Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at the town’s well. There are many reasons this was an unusual encounter; to start, it was strange for a man to be engaging a woman, especially a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman. Noon would not be the typical time a person would go to the well to draw water. Jesus reveals that he sees and knows this woman’s story, that she has no husband and in fact has had five husbands and the man she is living with now is not her husband. When I was an adolescent, this woman was often portrayed to me as “loose,” a “slut,” and “unclean” and that Jesus was making her repent of her sinful behavior. Yet, there is more to this story. In those days a woman would not have been able to leave a husband.  For her to have had five husbands meant that they would have either had to die or divorce her because of something like infertility. The shame she carries may come from others looking at her with pity or because society sees no value for her.  Yet Jesus sees her. He asks her for water. Jesus offers her living water. At the end of the exchange she leaves her water jug and goes into the community, proclaiming that she has met the Messiah, and many came to believe in Jesus because of her testimony. The power of being seen and known helps you to believe that you are loved.

Unfortunately, the power of being fully seen is often lost in our communities of faith.  The pressures we feel to “have it all together” often follows us into our church buildings, Bible studies, and small groups. We make sure we are dressed in our “Sunday best,” have the correct “Sunday school answer,” and try to wear a mask so no one will question our faith.  

The funny thing is that faith is not the absence of questions or doubt, but faith is the courage to be authentic — doubts and all — and to trust that God is present in that space. Our prayer at the Chapel is that you might find a place that you can come and be fully seen and known. That in the midst of pressures, doubts, and stress that it may be a place of sanctuary where you can meet Christ, be filled, and share that love with others.

Dcs. Kristin

Oct. 21, 2020

Pastor Jim and Deaconess Kristin take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection.

 

A Blessing Called Sanctuary

You hardly knew

how hungry you were

to be gathered in,

to receive the welcome

that invited you to enter

entirely—

nothing of you

found foreign or strange,

nothing of your life

that you were asked

to leave behind

or to carry in silence

or in shame.

Tentative steps

became settling in,

leaning into the blessing

that enfolded you,

taking your place

in the circle

that stunned you

with its unimagined grace.

You began to breathe again,

to move without fear,

to speak with abandon

the words you carried

in your bones,

that echoed in your being.

You learned to sing.

But the deal with this blessing

is that it will not leave you alone,

will not let you linger

in safety,

in stasis.

The time will come

when this blessing

will ask you to leave,

not because it has tired of you

but because it desires for you

to become the sanctuary

that you have found—

to speak your word

into the world,

to tell what you have heard

with your own ears,

seen with your own eyes,

known in your own heart:

that you are beloved,

precious child of God,

beautiful to behold,

and you are welcome

and more than welcome

Here.

Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace