Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 15:1-16:39 / Romans 16:1-27 / Psalm 90:11-17
We sang a Bill Gaither song years ago, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God…” I always liked that song because of the people who were singing it with me! Those ties to my home church and church family were strong and valuable. A few days ago, my youngest son visited and ministered in my home church where I grew up. There were some people who remembered me and they had a lot of questions and kind words to share with him. They even had him stand, giving him special recognition in the service as “Jimmy” Clark’s son. They valued me by honoring my son!
I haven’t seen those people in years but I have fond, special and cherished memories. They were the ones who loved me, supported and encouraged me to pursue God’s call on my life. They were always there for me…Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leaders, Care Givers, and a Pastor who mentored me. They were family…
It is a delight to occasionally see them and my heart always swells up with joy. Our hearts connect as we reflect about the past and talk about the present. The Apostle Paul speaks about the Family of God in Romans 16. He refers to a number of people, sharing about the value they brought into his own personal life and to The Kingdom of God. He speaks of Phoebe, calling her a faithful servant and asks the Roman church to care for needs. (Romans 16:1,2)
Paul then gives special greetings to a list of people who were so endearing to him. “Greet” means to welcome someone in a respectful and friendly manner. There are many different ways we can express greetings and Paul admonishes one such way in verse 16, “Greet one another with a holy kiss…”
The practice of embracing and kissing friends/close relatives on the forehead or cheek was common in Old Testament times. This was an expression of brotherly love, appreciation and honor. Paul encouraged the Romans as well as other churches to recognize the deep spiritual ties that held them together, as their biological families often rejected them.
Greeting is often regulated by cultural acceptance and practices. Today, we embrace/hug, shake hands, pat backs or give high fives. There are not too many practices, even a kiss on the forehead or cheek, that are frowned upon as long as they reflect a genuine and godly spirit. Don’t miss out on opportunities to express your appreciation, thankfulness and love for others. Like the song says, “Blessed be the tie that binds, our hearts in Christian love…” Be faithful to greet one another…it will do your spirit good!