Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
So often in our lives, tests of faithfulness and compassion seem monumental and overwhelming. Putting the Christian faith into action – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, getting healthcare for all, creating a just prison system where inmates are cared for, welcoming the refugees and immigrants (you know, the things Jesus said are basic) – can be daunting and even at times impossible. How nice it has been over the past few months to be allowed to do something so simple, yet so Christian that it is a powerful witness to Christian love and care – simply wearing a face mask.
Yes, I know there are some who resist this simple act of charitable healing and concern for others, but these folks are a small minority. There will always be a few goats among the sheep (see Matthew 25:31-46), but we have a good shepherd calling us to very simple acts of kindness and generosity as well as those acts more challenging and tremendous. Those acts of sacrifice that ask us to sacrifice very little can still be powerful.
Beyond that, there is a symbolic power to wearing a mask: it is a statement to the world that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves – fulfilling the second part of the Great Commandment. And as Jesus teaches us, to fulfill the second part of the Great Commandment is the way we fulfill the first part – to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Wearing a mask is an even more powerful witness than wearing a cross. A cross may symbolize an inward and spiritual affection for Jesus Christ, but a mask is an outward and visible sign of Christian compassion, healing, and service. A mask is a witness to our faith, loving God and neighbor in a real and tangible way.
God of healing grace and unconditional love, we thank you. We thank you for a simple way to care for one another. We thank you for an easy witness to our faith. We thank you for a sacrifice that is within all our grasps. We thank you for this opportunity to live the Great Commandment. We thank you for the ways we can combat this awful pandemic together in both the big and small ways. Gracious Lord, please bless our best efforts that we might see this terrible plague come to an end. We ask all in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.