THE GOOD GREETING
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I am a big fan of the good greeting. The good greeting and the good goodbye. Very important to me. I suppose this is why I have always identified so well with Uncle Leo in Seinfeld. Jerry’s uncle was also a big believer in the good hello. At one point Jerry caught Uncle Leo shoplifting a book. When he confronted his uncle about it at the diner the conversation went like this:
“I saw you in Brentano’s yesterday.” “Why didn’t you say hello?” “Because you were too busy stealing a book!” “You still say hello!!”
The Biblical letter writers were also believers in the good hello. The greeting. Looking through them you read greetings, greetings to individuals, greetings from individuals. It was incredibly meaningful for our Bolivia team to bring our greetings to Bolivia. It was incredibly meaningful for us to hear greetings from Bolivia this morning.
To be greeted means to be recognized. It reminds us that we are recognized by God. To greet someone is to recognize that we share a common bond – created in God’s image. To recognize. There is an African greeting that goes like this between two people: “I see you.” “I’m here.” To be greeted is to be recognized. It’s a reminder that God recognizes us as God’s beloved children.
To be greeted is to be remembered. Note all this individual greeting we’re talking about. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. Every single one. Do not let one be forgotten. Because God does not forget. Note all the uses of names in the list of greetings throughout the letters. God knows us by name. God calls us by name . “Moses! Moses!” We’re going to be looking at that later in the month. “Samuel! Samuel!” “Saul, Saul.” God knows us by name and he saves and calls us by name. When we gather around this table in a few moments, hear the words “This is my body, given for you_____.”
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saint’s greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household.
Paul then finishes where he began. With a blessing. Recognition. Remembrance. Blessing. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Singular. Your spirit. Personal. Your spirit. Paul wanted to know that they were standing firm in one spirit. The Spirit of God that binds us to one another and lifts us up into that eternal circle of love between our triune God the Father, the Son and Spirit.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. It is only in Christ that we are able to bless one another at all. How else could we presume to do this? Blessing is not just for ministry professionals either. If you’re so minded bless one another at our greeting time – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. The peace of Christ be with you. Not in a perfunctory way. The good greeting. The good blessing. One that’s not dependent on the force of your personality or your charm or your mood on the day but one that’s dependent on the fact that we have the same Spirit of Christ living in us.
Paul knew what this grace meant. For himself. For all of creation. If you know what it means and you desire it for those around you here then let us bless one another. I’m not going to ask you to do it now as I don’t want it to be contrived and I know a lot of us don’t like being told what to do. If there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, and compassion and sympathy… bless one another. Greet one another. Recognize. Remember. Bless. As we meet around this table. As we go from this place. As we move into a new season - may God continue to form us into such people.