Blog Post by 
Rev. Liz Kanerva
Associate Presbytery Leader

I’m a huge fan of TikTok’s. I’m struck by how this short-form video platform has taken off to include not only the fun dances my 16-year-old incessantly performs in the kitchen but how it is being used so creatively by pastors in their ministries. One creator, in particular, the Rev. Cliff Haddox, captured my attention with his “Word of the Day” series. He takes one word and offers a quick reflection on that word for the day. (Search RevnGeek on TikTok if you’d like to follow him.) So, with a nod to RevnGeek let me offer the word of the day.

Today’s word of the day is fear. Not the kind of fear I experienced when my sister, Janet, took me to my first ever haunted house. Rather this is the fear manifested in anger. You get angry when external agent causes you to trigger your fear and insecurity. “Fear leads us to feel vulnerable and not in control, anger can be energizing and empowering. As such, it can become the go-to reaction to experiencing fear.” (Psychology Today) I remember when my then-toddler ran out into the street with cars zipping by and a flush of anger almost overwhelmed me. My anger was rooted in my fear for her safety and blessedly the anger quickly subsided into relief and hugs.

I must live in some sort of bubble because I have yet to meet anyone who wears a mask out of fear.  Caution, certainly, but never fear. Best practices, yes but never fear. Care and compassion for sure, but never fear. Yet in the wilds of social media, the pushback against my mask-wearing would suggest I’m nothing more than a sheep; that I wear a mask out of fear. Fear of getting sick I wonder? Not that bad of a reason, but for those who suggest my wearing a mask is rooted in fear well it’s not really about fear, but their anger. At best their anger is rooted in the inconvenience of wearing a mask and at its worse in debunked conspiracy theories. Truth be told, I resonate with the former and have no patience for the latter.

“There is plenty in this world to fear and there are plenty of people in this world who are more than happy to exploit our fears to gain or maintain their own position and power.” (Bishop Robert O’Neill) Right now, we’re in a brutal mix of a pandemic and fraught politics, throw in climate change with a dash of our everyday challenges and give it a stir.  It is a fearful, angry stew.

How are we Christian folk to respond? I believe we respond with love. Remember that love your neighbor bit in the gospels? It is as easy and as hard as that. Last Sunday’s epistle reading captured my attention as well. Put on the whole armor of God, the author of Ephesians proclaims the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and the word of God. And, if I may be so bold, put on the mask of love.

I choose to wear my mask because I am called to love my neighbor. I choose to wear my mask because it is the right thing to do for my community. I choose to wear my mask because I value your life more than my inconvenience.

The call of Jesus is a call to take heart, to have courage, to stand tall in the name of love. The daily invitation that the risen Christ extends to us is to be a people who refuse, in love, to be held captive by our anger. Love wins. Love always wins, in all places, in all ways, under every circumstance, without exception. Love wins.

Image of Liz Kanerva, Assoc Presbytery LeaderRev. Liz Kanerva
Associate Presbytery Leader


  • Posted August 24, 2021 5:47 pm
    Alan Meyers

    Well said, Liz. Thank you.

  • Posted August 24, 2021 6:52 pm
    harriet hall

    Thank you, Liz!!!

  • Posted August 24, 2021 7:47 pm
    Ellie Stock

    Thanks, Liz. So well said!

  • Posted August 25, 2021 9:05 am
    Kathy Sherrick

    I need to hear that message every day to overcome the anger and frustration I feel when I listen to the news and read the newspaper!

  • Posted August 25, 2021 11:14 am
    Larryetta Ellis

    Thank you for putting the issue of “to wear or not to wear” in perspective. You really made a good point that masks are a part of the whole armor of God. Isn’t love what its all about anyway?

  • Posted August 25, 2021 2:12 pm
    Diane McCullough

    Liz, so well said. God is Love – always is, always was and always will be. Thank you.

  • Posted August 26, 2021 7:52 am
    Ronald Norgard

    I do remember that “love your neighbor” bit. And I remember how Jesus turned the question of the lawyer on its head. When he had finished he asked, “Which of these three, do you think, was neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” As Jesus saw it, the neighbor was the man who turned aside not the victim. There is an anger that grounds righteousness. We all love freedom. And we all promote the value of the individual. But the individual does not exist alone; the individual lives in a community of like individuals. Thus, donning a mask by the individual is using their freedom to turn aside for the safety of the persons in their path. This is the righteousness of responsibility that permits grace and civility to flower among all of us free individuals.

    And thank you , Liz, for bringing out that anger can really be a masquerade hiding the fear of our vulnerability.

  • Posted August 26, 2021 8:40 am
    Bill Vincent

    Amen, Liz! Thank you! Well said.
    Now, the difficulty I face is…how to persuade those who are angry that love is the way?

  • Posted September 1, 2021 9:44 am
    Jay Kanerva

    This is wonderful. It especially hits home for me as I serve in healthcare and I cover a COVID-19 ICU at BJH. Well written with a voice of compassionate jocularity. Thank You.

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