“Our cloth masks may have come off on March 11 but a far more sinister mask came off months ago.” Photo: Yannick Pulver/Unsplash

“Our cloth masks may have come off on March 11 but a far more sinister mask came off months ago.” Photo: Yannick Pulver/Unsplash

‘The great unmasking’

“Perhaps now that things have been broken we have a chance to pick up the pieces and fix them.”

by Pastor Ben Jepsen

On Sept. 9, 1965, James Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Vietnam. He was taken prisoner by the north Vietnamese and spent the next seven years being tortured and subjected to unimaginable loneliness and terror.

In an interview about how he survived the worst years of his life he said, “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Further in the interview he was asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. Put simply, we’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

I remember people asking me how long I thought the pandemic would last back in March 2020, as I told them my guess of June 2020 they would have a look of horror and disbelief and I would assure them that I likely would be way off and it would be sooner. Thus far I am now 20 months off from my initial guess.

On March 11, B.C. dropped the mask mandate and we can now see everyone’s smiling and upset faces.

We can see behind the mask. More interesting to me though were the masks that came off over the past two years.

Grand Forks was a community that mostly had congenial townsfolk. For the most part we never really knew what any one individual believed, who they voted for or what they do with their personal time.

They were simply the friendly grocery store employee, local barista and small-town doctor. You would know enough about them or as much as you wanted to know about them and be on your merry way. Now all that has changed.

Along the way in the midst of our grand optimism of when we would get out of the tortures of the pandemic, we snapped and our true colours came out.

Instead of thanking our family doctor we yell at them, instead of a friendly smile and pleasantries with the grocery store clerk we size each other up and argue about the effectiveness of masks, instead of swimming at the pool or going to a movie with friends we are torn up and filled with guilt that some of our friends can no longer join us.

Our cloth masks may have come off on March 11 but a far more sinister mask came off months ago.

Jesus met countless different people in all sorts of situations but no matter who they were or what the circumstance was he met them right where they were at.

Perhaps now that things have been broken we have a chance to pick up the pieces and fix them.

Perhaps now the best way forward is keeping the masks we made off and learning how to love one another wherever we are at.

My hope and prayer for the … community is a deeper resilience and discipline that whatever comes next, we can lock arms and say, “We are in this for the long haul and together we will deal with it.”

Ben Jepsen, Associate Pastor

Gospel Chapel

Religion

 

Pastor Ben Jepsen