18th May 2016

“A Hug is a Handshake From the Heart”

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!
1 Corinthians 12:7 (MSG)

I read recently the church newsletter ‘In Touch’ describing a concert performed by a group of ‘additional support needs’ performers from Edinburgh’s Lighthouse Dance Project. When creating the pieces for the worship service, their teacher asked each of them, “Who do you think Jesus is?” As the saying goes ‘From the mouths of babes …!’ One young person responded “He loves us and can give us hugs.” As the scripture above says, “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is”—in this case dancing, a form of worship (Psalm 150:4). I thought this an insightful testimony into the relationship just one individual shares with our creator God and what this suggests, i.e. a close, warm, connection to Jesus Christ.

Depending on which translation you use (I’m quoting from the Message), the Bible frequently talks about hugging each other. Words used synonymously include ‘embrace’, ‘kiss’ and ‘greeting’.

We have passed the traditional time to commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection. Can we possibly imagine what Christ was thinking as the impending date of his crucifixion drew close. Jesus Christ knew from the beginning he would be our sacrifice. I imagine he would have welcomed a sincere hug from a friend, yet here in Luke 7:45,knowing his time to die was soon, his experience was quite the opposite. He said to Simon, a prominent Pharisee who had invited him to dinner, “You gave me no greeting ….”

The Bible encourages us to show warmth and reach out to people within the context of our spiritual family; whether this is a kiss or a hug (embrace) it is a sign of affection and indeed love for one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:26 says, “Greet all the Christians there with a holy embrace.” 1Corinthians 16:20, “All the friends here say hello. Pass the greetings around with holy embraces!” Romans 16:16, “Holy embraces all around! All the churches of Christ send their warmest greetings!” and 1Peter 5:14, “Give holy embraces all around! Peace to you-to all who walk in Christ’s ways.”

For some, indeed some cultures more than others, physical contact does not come naturally. As the beginning scripture includes “All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!” We are all different so please do not think this is a call for every single person to hug indiscriminately.

We read in Ephesians 2:4-5, “… immense in mercy and with an incredible love He embraced us” and in verse 16 “Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of hostility.”

We know from scientific research that hugging and related activities lower blood pressure, is good for the heart, decreases feelings of loneliness, relieves stress, and multiple other things. Hugging (embracing and kissing) is communicating to others we love them … literally as Christ loves us.

Prayer
Jesus Christ, our elder brother—thank you for hugging us.
Amen

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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irenetibbenhamAbout the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a deaconess in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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