‘Love one another’…enough to wear a mask

By the Rev. Candy LaBar*

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 2:4-5, NRSV

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -John 13:34-35, NRSV

“And now, for my daily reminders,” Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, said each day during her COVID daily briefings. If, like our family, you’ve watched those daily COVID press conferences on PCN, you’re probably able to recite her daily reminders by heart. But they’re worth repeating:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds… or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbows and not with your hands.
  • Try not to touch your face, especially after touching surfaces.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • If you are going out for life-sustaining activities, please wear a mask.

And as always, she would add: “Remember… my mask protects you, and your mask protects me.”

When we wear our face masks, our primary aim is not to protect ourselves. Our primary aim is to protect others. It is an act of protection, care, and concern for others. And at this moment, in this strange season, it seems like the simplest, most practical, most tangible way to live out the words of Paul and the words of Jesus in our scriptures for today. “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others,” Paul writes (Philippians 2:3, NRSV). “Love one another,” Jesus says, “just as I have loved you” (John 13:34, NRSV).

Love one another, friends. Love one another enough to wear a mask. Friends, I invite you to repeat those words every time you don a mask. Love one another enough to wear a mask. I invite you to repeat those words, that you may remember: what you are doing is holy. What you are doing is good. What you are doing… is just what Jesus told you to do.

*The Rev. Candy LaBar is the pastor of Wesley UMC Bethlehem. Church members participated in this second online photo collage. The first one, which LaBar made in May, offered thanks to health care and service personnel working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.