Much of what I learned about worship services I owe to my older brothers. In my childhood when I complained, “I never know what to say,” they took an interest in my plight. “For the prayers, just say this: ‘lettuce pray’,” instructed the one. “And when they tell you to stand up, shake hands and act friendly towards people, say ‘Peas be with you,’” said the other.
My brothers were quite pleased with themselves, as was I, with my newly acquired church language skills. But my parents were less than impressed. The lessons stopped, so I never got to hear their version of Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy”).
We live in difficult times, and in whatever language you use or borrow, “Lord have mercy,” will be a prayer suitable to any day. May a kind word, a gentle greeting, or a smile that can be seen and felt through your mask – may these be a part of your day. Likewise may a caring glance, a super-sized helping of patience and unexplained joy be yours to share wherever you may be. And if you can make someone groan when you say, “Lettuce pray” or “Peas be with you,” all the better.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy … and blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:3-12). May your errands of mercy and efforts at peace be a blessing to those around you.
I was at a local grocery store — I can’t reveal the name, but its slogan used to be “Fun for your money! — looking for a lot of fun for my money in the fresh produce department, and I think I found it when I came across the red peppers. At the checkout, the cashier rang up my five different items, smiled and said, “That will be $10,151.34.”
“Whoa,” I said. “Is this some kind of pandemic pricing?” She looked at me, shook her head, and gave me a “w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r” look. (Thanks to years of training from my children I recognized it immediately.)
“Will that be cash or credit?” she asked, look intact.
“I’m thinking mortgage” I said. She gave me more “w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r.”
Eventually the assistant manager came over, and after checking, deduced that actually red peppers were not selling for $14,000 per pound that day – phew! – and we got it sorted out.
“Are we going to eat that red pepper?” my wife asked me when I told her about all the fun I almost got for my money. “Not a chance!” I declared, “that pepper is worth its weight in gold!”
“Well, what are you going to do with it if you’re not going to eat it?”
“I’m thinking of getting it bronzed.”
Whether it's red peppers, gold, fun for your money or anything else, be careful about what your heart treasures, Our Savior’s words are plain and clear: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
– Pastor Tom
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
“Have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” - Philippians 2:5
“No shirt, no shoes, no service” was a standard non-controversial sign at beachside businesses in my growing up years, even at those restaurants with patio seating. No one forced you to wear shirt or shoes (or sandals) – that would have been way uncool, and being uncool is big no-no in beach culture. But neither did you get to demand businesses to wait on you if you weren’t wearing footwear or a top – that too was way uncool.
It is too early to hope that the controversy regarding the wearing of masks is behind us. Some militant non-mask wearers take umbrage at the requirement to don a mask. Perhaps, as they insist, they are well within their constitutional rights to endanger as many others as they wish.
They insist on this choice for themselves, but when they deny businesses the choice not to serve them, their hypocrisy is unmasked, on full display for all to see. “No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service” is not something they want to see or hear.
You’ll be hard put to find any mention of mask-wearing in the Bible. But you won’t be hard put to find mention of being mindful of the needs of others.
Wearing masks and keeping social distance is not about convenience or comfort, it is about doing what’s helpful to keep others from getting ill, very much in line with God’s Word that teaches us, “Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Even when it comes to masks, we get to “have the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:3-5)
There are exceptions, of course, but they need to be exceptions, not the willful refusal to abide by helpful practices that are effective for fighting the pandemic, and aid in keeping healthcare workers, first responders, the vulnerable and the healthy safe.
– Pastor Tom
United Methodist Pastor, Child of God, Follower of Jesus Christ.