When the Greet and Meet Time at Church Freaks you Out

“Turn and greet your neighbor.” A simple request heard in churches every weekend.

For some this request is greeted with dread.

Not everyone in a church meeting wants to acknowledge, let alone shake hands with the stranger next to them. The very thought can send them running to hide in the restroom.

Most times I am happy to greet those around me with a simple hand shake, just don’t ask me to high-five or fist-bump…not happening!

Then there’s hugging. Did you just squirm in your seat? Did the very thought of hugging someone you hardly know cause you discomfort? Me too.

Last Sunday I sat in a different seat to my norm finding myself next to a lady I have never met. I said hello and gave a friendly smile when she first sat next to me. Then came the time in the service when we were encouraged to turn to our neighbor and greet them. I extended my hand in friendship and she graciously responded.

Then it happened!

Holy embraces all around! Romans 16:16 msg

She pulled me a little closer wrapping her arms around me as she informed me ” I’m a hugger.” Honestly I didn’t have time to pull away. There I was, embraced in a hug with a total stranger…are you cringing?

If that had taken place a few years ago I would have stiffened like cardboard, held my breath as I endured the torture and made sure I avoided her in the future. I no longer respond to that degree, though I still have a little hesitancy, a little awkwardness, a little embarrassment but a lot more grace.

It is only as I have responded to God’s love for me, accepting His warm welcoming embrace have I slowly become more comfortable with accepting and showing affection to others.

Whatever church gathering you attend I’m sure the leadership would want you to feel safe. It’s okay not to shake hands, high-five, fist-bump or hug. It would be sad to stop attending church all because you dread the “greet and meet” time.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Set your own boundaries, you know what you are comfortable with. In the meantime allow the One who loves you unconditionally to draw you into His warm embrace. Let the Lord melt away your fears and break down your walls. Let Him fill you with His presence and grow you in His grace.

Maybe you will never be a hugger, and that’s okay. A warm friendly smile and a welcoming hand-shake can say “I’m glad to have met you today.”

I was glad to have met the lady next to me even if she was a hugger. We spoke after the meeting (not about hugging). I found out she was visiting from out of state and this was her first time at my church. She had shed a tear during the service and told me how she wished she had a church like this one in her home state. I’m glad I didn’t push her away.

To those who are comfortable with the “greet and meet” time. Let us be mindful of the people around us, may we respect their boundaries…you can usual tell from their body language. One last thing, I do not allow men (other than my husband) to hug me full on no matter how long I have know them and definitely not a male stranger.

Are you a hand shaker, high-fiver, fist-bumper, hugger or a hide in the restroom woman? Share in the comments, you may be surprised to find you are not alone.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

Radical Love: Part 2

I am so thankful for Jesus. Thankful for His willingness and obedience to pay for my sin on the cross. Thankful also that the story does not end with a battered and bruised bloody corpse, laying lifeless wrapped in linen on a cold tomb slab.

It was early in the morning, when Mary and several other women came with spices and perfumes to use on Jesus’ dead body.  They wondered how they were going to roll away the stone? Think heavy stone, not a small boulder. Oh what a shock they had when they got there!

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. Matthew 28:2-4

If I had been with these women I too would of been surprised to see the stone rolled away. But oh my gosh! An angel! Really! Scripture tells us we sometimes entertain angels unaware, but these ladies were very much aware of what/who was sitting on the rolled away stone before their eyes. No mistaking his appearance, this being was glowing! Looks like the guards who was on duty to ensure no one stole Jesus’ body were pretty shocked too.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just like he said. Come see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5,6

In Matthew 28:7 The angel goes on to tell them to go quickly and tell the disciples that Jesus is risen from the dead. Afraid but filled with joy they ran (vs 8) Yep! think I would be running with the wonderful news too. They were instructed to tell the disciples to meet in Galilee where they would see Jesus.

Oh my gosh, look what I found in vs 9 & 10. Seriously I must have read this scripture many times over the years but only now is it popping off the page. Jesus meets with the women as they were on the way to the disciples.

Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

When the eleven disciples met with Jesus on the mountain in Galilee they too worshiped Him (see vs 16,17). He told them in vs 18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…

…He then goes on to give them the great commission.

But wait! What happened between Friday’s crucifixion and Sunday’s resurrection? Well, He had keys to take back. Keys that Adam and Eve had unknowingly handed over to Satan. The keys that allowed death to enter. Jesus had paid the price and the keys now belonged to Him.

The Ever-Living One [living in and beyond all time and space]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of [absolute control and victory  over] death and Hades (the realm of the dead) Revelation 1:18

Get this He not only took the keys back but He made a spectacle of the spiritual forces.

He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets. Colossians 2:15

A victory parade indeed!

In Acts 1 Paul tells us that Jesus (after His resurrection) appeared to the disciples over a forty day period teaching them about the kingdom of God. I imagine they were ready to listen and believe more so than in the previous three years. But time came when Jesus needed to leave earth and return to heaven.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. vs9

The awesome news is He is coming back!

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee, they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Meanwhile, as we wait for His return we can be assured that nothing and no-one can separate us from the love that God has for us. Jesus paid the price, the deal was closed. Anyone who excepts His gift of salvation becomes family, His family. Sealed with His blood.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 NIV

We, you and I are radically loved. Live in His love!

From my family to yours

Have a wonderful Easter Sunday

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

As always feel free to share, like and comment

Radical Love: Part 1

As a child, Good Friday meant eating hot cross buns loaded with butter and topped with strawberry jam…Delicious!

For me, hot cross buns was the only good thing about Good Friday. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good day was beyond my comprehension. A man had died. No, not just a man. God’s son had died and, people called it a good. Did they not like him? Were they glad to get rid of him? I didn’t see the good, except for the Hot Cross buns.

Even though I accepted Jesus as my savior as a teenage, it would still be many years before I would remotely begin to understand the good in Good Friday…yes, I am still learning, still discovering, still realizing the good.

JESUS KNEW THE PLAN

“I came from the Father and entered the world;

now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

John 16:28

His death and method of death was not a surprise to Him. I don’t think it was physical death that bothered Him so much as it was the spiritual death (separation from the presence of God) that He would go through.

Luke 22:37 NIV ” It is written:  ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

His life was not taken from Him, but rather He gave himself for us.

He was the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered for our sins. He was willing but the reality of actually going through with it hit home and He prayed. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He knew what to expect and He still went through with the plan to rescue us from eternal separation from God. Now that is Love!

“He stayed there, not because the nails held Him, but because His love for you and me did.”

As Jesus hung nailed to the cross, people in the crowd shouted “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Luke 23:35b. Of course He could of saved Himself, He could of left the cross whenever He chose.

But, He didn’t!

He stayed there not because the nails held him, but because love for you and me did.

Abandoned

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:45,46 Message Bible

It blows my mind that Jesus willingly went to the cross knowing that when the sin of the world was place solely on Him, it would cause Him to be separated from His Father. The Father that He had been one with before the world was ever created. Now that is radical love!

I don’t think it could of been easy for God either, seeing His son bearing the sin of this world. God is Holy and there isn’t any darkness in Him, so to see Jesus full of darkness must of been really hard. Some say that God turned away from Jesus at this time, that would explain why Jesus asked why He had abandoned Him.

Salvation through Jesus was His plan, His idea because He too loves us.

“For God so [greatly]loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:6 Amp

The price was paid, the transaction was done and salvation had been secured…

…Sunday is coming!

If you have not accepted God’s gift of salvation, please don’t hesitate. He loves you so much and is eager to forgive you of sin and restore you to a personal relationship with Himself.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

Share and encourage a friend.

What does Good Friday mean to you? Look forward to hearing from you in the comment box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Umbrella of Love

20160107_105251    Early December I received a coupon in the mail from a major retailer, it was worth ten dollars and no further purchase was needed in order to use the coupon. The store in question is in a shopping center a little way out of town, not somewhere I visit often. Still, I put the coupon in my purse knowing I would probably visit the area before the expiry date on the coupon.

Just a few days later I received an invitation to attend a birthday luncheon in honor of a friend. Most of us enjoy a celebration and I’m no different. I quickly responded to the organizer of the gathering with a “Yes. Count me in.”

I take too long deciding what to eat when presented with a new menu. When possible I go online and view what is offered beforehand.  I’m glad I did, I knew the restaurant was in the same shopping center as the store who sent me the ten dollar coupon. What I didn’t realize was they were right next door to each other.

About sixteen women ages ranging from late twenties to early seventies gathered to celebrate the birthday girl . After rearranging tables and chairs into one large dinning table, we took our seats. I ordered my predetermined online choice of chicken and salad and I was not disappointed.

When eating was done it was time for the birthday girl to open presents, and as she did each giver in turn described what the birthday girl meant to them. I listened as each one told stories of how she had been there for them, prayed with them, accepted them. It was truly a beautiful part of the celebration.

The celebration came to an end and we each went our separate way. Now you know I went straight next door to spend my ten dollar coupon. I browsed through their various displays of clothes, jewelry and purses all beautifully arranged according to their color. Oh my, it did look quiet charming, so much to choose from. I wandered to the far end of the store and that is when I saw the polka dot umbrella. Intrigued I picked it up and opened it, wanting to test the coverage it gave.

It was then as I held the umbrella over me I thought about how my friend, the birthday girl, had covered the ladies with comfort, prayer and words of wisdom when needed. In essence she formed an umbrella of love, when they were exposed to a storm.

Sometimes it’s just raining and sometimes the storm is fierce but either way, how wonderful not to have to face it alone. How comforting to know we can turn to sisters-in-the-Lord who will pray with us and for us during the hard times.

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13 Message Bible

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I want to be an umbrella of God’s love. How about you?