Greetings. As we have learned to live with the novel coronavirus in our midst, and as things are opening up in our communities, I have decided to make the most of this time, and part of making the most of this time is developing my collection of masks. I want to share some of them with you. This is my favorite mask. Not only is it the perfect shade of purple, it is lightweight, it is easy to wear. This is the mask that I wear when I go for a run. This is the mask that I take with me when I walk the dog. It’s fun, and it’s easy to wear.

I want to share a mask that my mom made for me, because I think the skulls are really cool. This mask is my quick trip mask. It’s the mask I wear to take out the trash. It’s the mask I wear to run to the garage. If I’m just making a quick trip, I pop this on, because it’s fun.

When I’m out and about in the world around a small number of other people, I wear this one. Again, the purple is amazing, but this mask also comes with a pocket that allows me to insert a PM 2.5 filter that helps filter particulate matter.

When I want something a little more subtle, I wear this one. It too, has a filter in it, and helps filter particulate matter from me breathing it in.

However, if I’m going to go out into the world and be indoors with a critical mass of people, if I’m going to the grocery store, or I’m going to the Target, I wear this. It is an N95. It is the highest filtration for particles coming in and particles going out. It is not cute, it is not fun, but I wear it because my husband and I have been advised by my child’s doctor, that we should consider everyone that we meet a carrier of coronavirus, and that in doing so, we will ensure our child’s safety.

When the guidelines first came out for physical distancing and the wearing of face masks, I initially thought, oh, well, this is simple. You put on a face mask, and you maintain six feet, a physical distance. It doesn’t seem like that would be hard, but it’s really difficult. Case in point, we recently had a prayer vigil with the Evangelical Lutheran church and the United Methodist church in our region. We joined together. Everyone wore their face masks, family groups worked really hard to stay six feet of distance from others. We worked diligently to be safe and to keep one another safe. As we were walking, we made sure that we slowed down and gave space for people to walk in front of us. And there was one instance where someone a good distance away from me, greeted me and spoke to me, and I began to talk to them, and then I became aware of my husband’s hand on my shoulder, pulling me back. And I realized that unconsciously, my body had begun moving towards the person I was talking to, decreasing that physical distancing, and it was only my husband’s hand that stopped me.

And I realized in that moment, how counterintuitive this physical distancing piece is. How hard it is, even for me, to be more than arm’s length from someone, how odd it feels. And as I thought about our community life together, I thought, Oh my goodness. Even if we are going to gather in small groups, how hard is it going to be? How hard will it be for us? How weird will it be to maintain physical distance and trying to hold on to community? There’s a part of my heart that breaks at this, and yet, I am hopeful. I am hopeful in these difficult, weird and strange times, that God’s spirit is moving. I am hopeful that in this time, we are being formed and reformed, and transformed as the body of Christ. I am hopeful in this time, that we are drawing closer to God, and in time, when we are able to draw physically closer together, that our time with God in this time, will not have been in vain.

I don’t know how long masks will be with us. I suspect for some time, but if they are, I think I’m going to make them a fashion statement. And I encourage you, as we are church together, know that even in these hard times, there are gifts, there is blessing. There are ways to have fun, and joy to be had, as we move forward together.