Behind the mask - Reflections 8-28-20

Texts for Sunday August 30, 2020
13th Sunday after Pentecost

Due to the pandemic, over these past months I have accumulated a bunch of masks, seeking the “perfect mask” for my face. I learned early on that I needed nose wires/strips because of fogging glasses. I also had to check how it curved away from my nose because the fabric poked my eyes. All of that is tricky since mask sellers tend to expect (rightfully) that “if you put it over your mouth, you own it”. I have a few favorites for comfort (and style) but my “main stay” ones are from a company that, ironically, makes albs (worship leader robes) for churches. They tie on around my head which helps adjust the fit. They are also made of breathable cotton (that I avoid when buying an alb because of wrinkles that would require an iron to remove. I love to lead worship, but I had to draw that line). And, you can get them in all the liturgical colors.

The Gospel for this week finishes the story from last week (Matthew 16) where Jesus asked his disciples who does the crowd say that I am? And then, more to the point, who do you say that I am? Can you see who I am behind the mask of popular perceptions? Can you see who I am through the mask of my words and actions?

Peter got kudos for his answer last week: The Messiah. The story continues this week with Jesus explaining what is store for him as Messiah: suffering and death on a cross. Obviously, that is not what Peter thought that mask revealed. He pulls Jesus aside and vehemently refuses that definition – that is not what will happen to you… it can’t. Jesus immediately reprimands Peter’s denial of his mission. If you can’t believe it, then you are in the way.

Each of us as a follower of Jesus needs to answer that question “who do you say that I am?”. In my experience, we need to answer it over and over. Like Peter we can stumble onto an appropriate answer only to trip on our unreasonable and incorrect understanding of what that means.

Look around the world today. 
Who do you say that he is?

Various saints across time have told us that the Christ we seek behind the mask can be found in each person we meet…. especially in the poor, the vulnerable, the outcast.

Re-read Romans 12:9-21.

Behind our masks may others see, the spirit of God breathing compassion, mercy, peace, hope, justice, righteousness, and truth.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245