“Greet one another with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12).
I have visited a few countries where it was common to greet one another — family, friends, new acquaintances, every person who walked into church — with a kiss on the cheek, or at least next to it. It took some adjustment, but that custom communicated warmth and welcome. It was worth the initial discomfort because it was a great way to show love in that situation.
Upon returning home, I have been delighted to again be with people whom I have known for years, and to greet them warmly — but not with a kiss. Instead it is with a mix of smiles, hugs, handshakes, and waves. It takes some adjustment after being immersed in cultures marked by frequent air-kisses, but it is worth the re-adjustment because it is usually how love is best expressed in my home culture.
For the past week or so, “social distancing” (that is, maintaining a physical distance of around 6+ feet) has been emphasized to reduce the spread of COVID-19 — not just locally, but around the world. This is intended to protect one another, and especially those most vulnerable. It is a new experience to keep such distance, but it is worth the effort because it is a way to love well in this current season.
In the closing words of a letter to the church in Corinth, Paul instructed them to “greet one another with a holy kiss” — a greeting of love and warmth there, of caring and concern for one another. During this challenging time in our world, may we rise to the challenge by adjusting routines and expectations, to express our love and concern through phone calls, texts, video chats, snail mail, sharing of resources, running errands for those most vulnerable, and more. May we love well.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:11-14).
— Pastor Debi