Jump Start # 2580
Romans 16:16 “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.”
The coronavirus epidemic has created some new words. Social distancing is one that we hear every day. And, now that states are looking to loosen up some restrictions about work and staying home, “the new normal,” is another new expression. Things, we are told, may not go back to the way they once were. There may be a “new” norm. This includes how restaurants serve customers, how sports teams fill stadiums, and how stores allow customers to shop. This is also being discussed among church leaders. How will worship logistically be carried out in the “new” norm?
I want to share a few thoughts about the “new” norm:
First, there is a lot of talk and theories being tossed about. The experts who are supposed to know simply do not know. In time, people will settle down and do what is natural. And, what is natural is closeness, touch, handshaking and hugging. That’s human nature. We need interaction. There was a study done many, many years ago with newborns. There were two groups. The first group was fed and cared for but there was very little touch. The second group was held, rocked, sang to. The second group was healthier and happier. Researchers found that there was emotional and physical benefits to touch. We are now one hundred years past the massive Spanish flu epidemic that killed so many in this country. Stores closed. Churches closed. That storm passed. Few ever talked about it until now. People returned to closeness. They were social, and, not at a distance. In time, we will return to such a closeness.
Second, our verse today is about greeting one another. We don’t talk much about the “holy kiss,” these days. It was a form of greeting. In many countries, kissing on the cheek is a normal form of greeting. You’d think the God of Heaven would know about flus, viruses, epidemics, diseases and put some qualifiers on this passage. Greet one another, but keep your distance. This epidemic will pass. It may change a few things, but there will be some things that never change. The hugging of a prodigal who comes home will continue. The joy of seeing each other will not change. The heartfelt handshakes and embraces of brethren who love each other will not change. There may be some new ways we shop and go out to eat, but some things will never change. They cannot change.
Third, what many politicians propose lacks faith in God. They say things from their standpoint and for political reasons. Faith trusts God. Will we have to sit every other pew from now on? Until Jesus comes? No. Will we only be able to wave to each other from now on? No. Will we have to wear masks in church services and sing through the masks from now on? Will this be what the new norm looks like? No. Put some trust in God. There may be some cleaning practices that we have to take a look at. For some of the church buildings I’ve been in the past, this would be a good thing. But don’t panic and fear that our preachers will have to preach through masks in the pulpit. How do you suppose a person would be baptized in this “new norm?” Do you think that either the preacher would be wearing gloves and masks or the person would baptize themselves? I don’t stay awake at night worrying about those things. Trust God. Everything will work out. We will still be greeting one another with love, affection and closeness.
Fourth, some changes come about because we haven’t thought about them very much. The changes we are talking about are not doctrinal, but merely how we fulfill what God says. There was a time in church history when most congregations used only one or two cups for the Lord’s Supper and everyone drank from those cups. Today, we’d be horrified at that thought. Talk about germs! I’ve attended places where they used just one cup. It’s hard to focus upon the death of Jesus when you are worried about your own death from some disease you might get from drinking after the guy before you. That changed. It was a good move for health reasons. It didn’t change the Lord’s Supper. It was a way that it was conducted. We now use individual cups in serving the Lord’s Supper. There may be some other changes that come out of this that we just haven’t thought about. For us, it seems normal. But when you look at it through the lens of safety and health risks, there are better ways. That may happen.
Finally, the church is much more than an institution, or an organization that we belong to. It is the body of Christ. We are the family of God. And, families are close. Families love. Families support. So, greeting one another will continue. It will continue because that’s the way we are. It will continue because God wants us to. It will continue because this is just one way that we express our deep love, concern and joy for one another. There may need to be some distancing until the crisis passes, but it will pass. Things come to pass. They never come to stay.
Greet one another—that will never end.