Beginning Friday, April 17th, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera was available for free on Youtube for one weekend only. Really? Out of all the Broadway shows available, the program executives decided to feature the only one where the lead has distanced himself from society and wears a mask? Well played, Youtube. Well played.
Well, coming soon to a Sunday near you, the Phantom will no longer be the only singer wearing a mask. As churches begin the process of reopening, scores of Christ followers will gather with veiled faces to resume the practice of corporate worship. We’ll be doing that at Kiokee, as well.
Preparations will be made. Seats will be sanitized. Distances marked. Directions given.
And masks will be worn.
Seeing people in masks, on those few times I’ve ventured out to the grocery store, has been a little unsettling. If I’m not wearing a mask, I feel out of place, kind of like a vegan on the Fourth of July. But when I’m in compliance, I suddenly become one of those extra cautious, slow walking, glove wearing, don’t look anyone in the eye, essentials only seeking zombies haunting the isles and avoiding the unclean.
Either way, as we head towards the day when we gather again in corporate worship, there are three things we all can do.
1) Assemble. Let’s get together. For centuries God’s people have gathered together to declare the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9). The call has encouraged us to come just as we are, whether victorious or bruised, joyous or confused, we are called to come. For a season we’ve been unable to gather, but once that call comes, let us forsake not the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25).
2) Acknowledge. While it may not be as unsettling as a trip to the store, our gathering together will probably seem a little awkward. It’s ok. Let’s acknowledge the awkwardness. We’re going to have to keep our distance. We’ll need to refrain from hugging for a while. We’re all going to smell like hand sanitizer. And yes, most folks will be wearing masks. Fret not. Maybe it would be helpful to realize that we’ve always worn masks to church. We’re just not used to people seeing them. The masks we normally wear, though not visible, are designed to conceal. These new masks, however, are designed to protect.
3) Ascribe. This is why we gather in the first place. Psalm 96: 7 – 8 says: Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! When we gather together again, let us sing together to our great God.
We could focus on the awkwardness. We could focus on the masks. We could try to put all that aside and focus on singing. But, if we focus on our Savior, the others will take care of themselves.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace