|By Tim Severance, Associate Minister|
The Dr. Seuss story, “The Sneeches” has been one of my favorite stories since childhood. The Sneeches were fine left to themselves. They enjoyed daily life eating, working, playing with one another. Until one day, this chap named, Sylvester McMonkey McBean, showed up with a machine that could put stars on their bellies thus differentiating one Sneech from another. That’s when the problems began. Pride, jealousy, and envy crept in as some Sneeches had stars and some didn’t.
I made a quick stop at Meijer yesterday and had mistakenly forgotten my mask. I’ve been wearing a mask whenever I went out and had become quite accustomed to it. Reluctantly, I headed into the store without a mask. I felt self-conscious as I saw most people with their masks on. To make matters worse, the grocery cart I had grabbed had a wobbly wheel and it just brought more attention to me and my maskless face. I did notice a few other nonchalant shoppers also without a mask. I thought, “Now they are my people!” We are the “maskless” ones! On one occasion I was going down an aisle following the arrows on the floor and ran into a masked family who were going in the wrong direction! Did I feel proud? I may not have a mask, but I was obeying the arrows!
When I returned to my van in the parking lot, I started thinking about my experience. What was this newfound mask-wearing culture really all about? Some people are even saying, “wearing a mask is unhealthy” Others say it doesn’t even work. And why did it make me feel inferior or superior than other people? What a strange way to go about life!
Life is a challenge, isn’t it?! Maybe now more than ever. Whether you want a star on your belly, chose to wear a mask, or can’t decide if it’s time to go back to church or not, life is a challenge. Add to the mix now issues of police brutality, racism, and politics, and life can seem overwhelming. No wonder many people I talk to are just content to stay home right now and wait to see how the next few months pan out.
Jesus did say, “In this world, you will have trouble…” Just look at the trouble He had to deal with! But the encouraging words are “…But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Sometimes it helps if we just turn off the news and open up our Bibles. Pray without ceasing. To me, that means living with a mindset of prayer. A constant dialog with God. Just like He is there with you in the home. And encourage one another. If you haven’t lately, give a brother or sister in Christ a call. Stay connected with one another. One of the lessons the Sneeches learned was that after the whirlwind experience was passed, they still had each other.
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love-so you can’t know him if you don’t love. 1 John 4:7 (MSG)