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Summary: Lenten series based on Mark 14 and Jesus’ encounters: Jesus was so comfortable with Himself that He could encounter threatening people without being threatened; could correct hostile people without being destructive; and could receive the heart of a tortu

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We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes –

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar spoke for generations who had been

made to play roles. They were expected to act like fools, to

grin and lie, to mumble “Yassuh”, to play the parts assigned

by racist America. They wore the mask to stay out of

trouble. But when you wear the mask too long, you not only

hide from others; you also hide from yourself. You begin to

lose your real self. And your only recourse when you lose

your real self is to cry out to a great Christ that He might

make you real again.

We are not real. We are not real, we are imitations, we are

phonies, we are mere shadows of what God intended us to

be. We take on roles, we play parts, we wear masks, we are

not real.

It starts when we are tiny children. Little girls slather on

makeup, trying to look like grown-up glamorous women,

when in truth there could be nothing more beautiful than a

little girl, just as God made her. If you want proof, let me

show you pictures of my granddaughters! Little boys put on

athletic shoes that just about swallow them up to the knees,

so that they can look like Michael Jordan or Shaquille

O’Neal, when in truth there is nothing more appealing than a

nine-year-old lean, mean, running machine. But we start

wearing masks early. We are not real.

It goes on during the teenage years. Teenagers are

absolutely unreal. Hey, don’t get on my case! I heard it from

your parents! They said you guys were unreal! That your

study habits, typing on the computer while you are talking on

the phone while you are watching a video while you are

eating a snack – that’s unreal. That your room, clothes

hanging out of every drawer, posters festooning every wall,

CD’s scattered across the floor, but you seem to know where

everything is – they said that’s unreal. I heard it from your

folks. You are unreal.

We wear the mask, all of us. We play the roles that people

expect of us. I’m the pastor, and so I am supposed to smile

soothingly and serve up sweet slumbering sermons to satisfy

your shattered soul. If I do that long enough, I forget who I

really am. You are the parishioners, and you are supposed

to pray, pay, plant yourselves in the pews, and applaud what

the pastor says. And if you do that long enough, let me tell

you, you will forget who you really are. We wear the masks.

We are not real.

And when we die, then they plump up our faces, put makeup

on our cheeks, manicure our nails, and dress our hair, so

that we look more alive than we did when we were alive, and

everybody will say, “Doesn’t she look ... real?” We have

forgotten what it is to be real. When you wear the mask too


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