Put your hand up if you hate the moments in the service when the worship leader asks you to turn and greet the person sitting next to you, or greet someone that you don't know or haven't spoken to for some time. I'll be honest, more often than not, my hand would go up. But there is something that I enjoy even less: to enter a church, sit through a service, then leave without a solitary person taking the time to talk to me. I admit to enjoying my own space and not being forced to move out of it, but I also recognise that there are other people who come to church with needs, and we need to reach out to them. Sadly, we often need to be encouraged to do so.
Some argue that the "mayhem" which ensues is a distraction from worship. Worship which does not turn us with new eyes to human need is a very hollow act. True worship of the Creator restores fellowship not only with Him, but with other human beings. True worship empowers and renews us in the ministry to which we are called - a ministry of reconciliation. To hear the words "let us take time to greet one another" is a reminder that we are partners in service and discipleship, that we need one another's encouragement and support on the journey. It is also a reminder that we are people with needs, and that God has equipped us to meet many of those needs.
The next time we are asked to greet one another, let us remember that we are called to be a part of one another. If you are nervous or anxious at such a time, the person at the other end of the pew is probably as nervous as you. In joining hands, there is new strength and encouragement to be found.
May 1, 1994
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