By now I hope we’re all becoming accustomed to the new reality of frequent hand washing (Ouch! Dry skin!) and covered faces. I’ve always been a pretty good hand washer but wearing a mask is something new to me. I’m probably not the only person to put on a mask only to find out I’m slightly claustrophobic. Wearing a mask all day – and remembering not to touch it after I put it on – was almost impossible for me the first week after my office re-opened. Now at the end of week two I’m doing much better.
For those still struggling, I offer a few hints:
- Make a mask out of a fabric with a pattern that makes you happy! If you don’t sew, find someone who does and ask if they’ll make you a mask. The mask I’m currently wearing is made out of a bright orange and pink flowered bed skirt that used to be on my daughter’s bed. It makes me smile every time I look in the mirror!
- Don’t forget to smile under that mask! People can’t see your mouth smiling but they can certainly see the smile in your eyes. And even a forced smile does wonders for the soul.
- When you’re starting to feel anxious about the mask, take a two-minute break from it – preferably outside or at least away from other people. If it’s not possible to take a break, try using a breath prayer. My favorite is “Be still and know that God is here.” Slow your breathing down and relax for a minute or two.
- Remember why you’re wearing the mask. You’re not wearing it to keep yourself safe. You’re wearing it to keep others safe!
From the very beginning, God has called us to love: to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Wearing a mask and staying home when possible are two important ways we can show our love for our each other.
The most obvious thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is how widespread our neighbors are. This one little virus has spread all around the world within just a few short months. Every one of us has either been infected or knows someone who has been infected. Most of us, unfortunately, know someone who has died from it. This virus has demonstrated in a very tangible way how intimately connected we are to each other.
Which brings us to this week’s resolution:
B031: Commend Global Episcopal Mission Network
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention affirm the global dimension of God’s mission that the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church has carried out since 1835 through deploying missionaries, developing mission companionships with Christians around the world, and engaging globally in educational, healthcare and justice work; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention commend the networking, mission education and mobilization for global mission that the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) has carried out since 1995 through the annual Global Mission Conference, the Mission Formation Program, and online resources; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, freestanding mission organizations, individuals, and seminaries to strengthen their global engagement through membership in the Global Episcopal Mission Network.
I admit, before I began to research this resolution, I didn’t know much about the work of the Global Episcopal Mission Network. According to their website, “The Global Episcopal Mission Network (or GEMN) is people working together to discern God’s call to be the face of Christ in the world. GEMN began in 1995 as a consortium of Episcopal dioceses interested in fostering and maintaining a strong missional presence in the Episcopal Church. In recent years, membership has been opened to invite any individual, congregation, seminary, diocese or organization with a passion for mission, within or beyond the Episcopal Church.”
“GEMN exists to equip and encourage global mission in the Episcopal Church. We create a space for people to exchange ideas and best practices, offer global mission education, and provide resources to those who are exploring their call to engage in mission. GEMN’s major initiatives include:
- An annual Global Mission Conference, including high-quality keynote speakers, insights from experienced missioners, opportunities for networking, workshops, site visits, mission organization presentations, and other resources to the mission community;
- Global Mission Training, including our Global Mission Formation Program for Global Mission Agents, designed for those engaged in or thinking about engaging in mission, and for those who would like to bring global mission training to their own local area; and
- Global Mission Resources that include mission planning materials, bibliographies, mission financing strategies and more.
- Global Mission Advocacy and Networking to keep global mission at the forefront of our church’s dialogue and to connect those seeking a way to live out God’s call to mission engagement.”
If you would like to learn more about the mission experiences of some GEMN members, you can read a few of their blog posts here.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this year’s Global Mission Conference scheduled April 29-May 1 in Indianapolis had to be canceled. However, the work of GEMN continues year round and it won’t be long until they’ll be taking reservations for next year’s conference. Until then, I encourage you to visit their website for helpful information on how to incorporate mission work into your worship and prayer, helpful guides for discernment and formation, and different mission organizations you may want to partner with in the future.
Whether we are loving the neighbors who live next door to us, or loving our neighbors who live abroad, each one of us has a part to play in God’s mission. The health and well-being of our neighbors directly impacts our personal health and well-being. Mission work doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating or expensive. All it requires is a desire to love our neighbors, wherever those neighbors might be. For right now, it can even be as simple as staying home, washing our hands, and wearing a mask.
Let us pray…
O gracious and loving God, you work everywhere reconciling, loving, and healing your people and your creation. In your Son and through the power of your Holy Spirit, you invite each of us to join you in your work. We, young and old, lay and ordained, ask you to form us more and more in your image and likeness, through our prayer and worship of you and through the study of your scripture, that our eyes will be fully opened to your mission in the world. Then, God, into our communities, our nation, and the world, send us to serve with Christ, taking risks to give life and hope to all people and all of your creation. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
~ The Rev. Diana Walworth, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council