There’s still a week left before October, but the Halloween decorations are already making their annual appearances. October is the month of the calendar where wearing masks and costumes is a cherished tradition. Trick-or-treating and costume parties give us the permission to experience the fun of dressing up as someone (or something) other than who we are. From Aladdin to Zombie, cute to creepy, there is a mask and costume suitable for channeling every person’s internal trick-or-treater. But Halloween 2020 gives us PPE as the new brand of Superhero garb, and protective face coverings are the masks in vogue. Not only for Halloween, but every time we step foot out the door.
Long before the world ever heard of COVID, the Apostle Paul advised Christians to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” What he was saying was that, the person we show to the world on the outside, should reveal who we are in Christ rather than putting our own worst impulses on display. Interestingly, immediately before this verse Paul also says we should do the right thing that is asked of us, not because it is forced upon us by law, but “because of conscience.” And then, to “owe no one anything, except to love one another.”
Government mandated mask wearing during this pandemic has provoked different responses from people. Some folks claim it is a case of government infringing upon individual freedoms. For me, and I know I am not alone, my motive for wearing a mask is not because the state is twisting my arm to do it. As Paul said, it is out of conscience. I don’t owe it to anyone to assume the slight inconvenience of mask-wearing. But I am obligated in Christian love to do what is in my power to protect the well being of others, even as I am protecting myself. When I don a mask, it is with a sense of “putting on Christ” and loving my neighbor as much as I love myself, instead of giving in to my worst fears or suspicions.
This Halloween, as flu season merges with the COVID pandemic and the cooling weather cuts down on outside opportunities for socializing, may “putting on Christ” become the trendiest form of self-expression of all. We owe each other that much.
Grace and Peace.