Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Learning To Like Greetings

I like greetings... 'Hello, Good to see you!... a wave... I not only like them because they are pleasurable. I like them on purpose.

"Greet one another with a holy kiss." - 2 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

Many years ago in Bible college I was out with a few friends an outreach and I think we were talking about food and one of them remarked, 'I tried that but I can't like that.' It showed something to me about that person. They tried the thing, whatever it was, and wanted to give it a chance... they even tried to like it... but just didn't.

Back to greetings... There is just something about them. Some people greet others when they first see them that day and then that is it. They don't even look at the other person or acknowledge them again until something is needed. This can be the case with distant relationships or with very established ones where 'words are not needed.'

Different cultures value greetings differently. Each family does also. In part this can be a learned behavior or a tendency because of a genetic make up... both nature and nurture contribute something to form these patterns.

There was a point in time when I saw the value of the genuine greeting. It makes people feel special... important... it dispels familiarity... for a moment (or a few seconds) a person has the full attention of another person. Each greeting can be like putting spare change in a jar because recognition is at the heart of relationships.

Like anything the whole thing can be turned on it's head. People get mad if you don't greet them or people can give you the 'fish hand' with a plastic smile and words right out of a can and the other person walks away glad that part is over and they can move on. Greetings can just be part on the 'sales pitch' and both people involved recognize the phoniness of the interaction.

I love watching two 'grace' people greet each other. Two free people who don't do what they do because they must or because it is expected. When they come together and exchange words, hand shakes or give a hug it is always fresh and real. They are like two kings or queens meeting one another. It is royal and has historical significance.

I have learned to like greeting people and I do it all day long. I often greet the same people again and again without an expectation of response. It isn't that I greet them like an amnesiac who acts like they are seeing the person for the first time all day long but it is a greeting or an acknowledgement of some kind.

It's a little thing but this kind of regular exchange leaves the channels of communications open. People know they have value and they know that they can approach 'the greeter' to talk about deeper things or share what is on their heart in times of need.

It is also a great way to mortify self occupation.

If you live in Philadelphia it would be good if you like Philly Cheese Steaks. They are everywhere and of the highest quality. If you can't... well then you can't. If you live around people it would be good to love greetings. But the same thing goes.

Lastly, I like to greet God often during the day. He is always there but the same principle can be applied. Maybe the part of the reason God gave us sleep at night is so that He could get a greeting out of us in the morning. That's not a scripturally supported idea but it is possible. The greeting is a kind of prayer... it is a way of practicing His presence. Instead of a quick hello and there a long day ignoring Him until we need something it is a constantly renewed fellowship and communion in the Spirit of Grace.


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