What’s in a greeting?

One of the most frequent comments I hear from new members of the parish where I work is how truly welcome they feel. They appreciate the cards, calls and welcome messages from the staff, and enjoy the hospitality of welcome dinners.

Each time the assembly draws together for liturgy or another parish activity that sense of belonging is rekindled. We use our words, our smile, and our friendliness, but consider Jesus’ words: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [MT 18:20].

Christians who live with an awareness of Jesus’ presence naturally become more open to God’s movement in their lives. And at this point, Christian hospitality takes on greater significance.

Might our extension of hospitality throughout our day, at home, at work, and in play emerge from the divine image that dwells in us and in which we were created? “It is so good to see you”  We know God works through us, so is it such a stretch to think that God also speaks through us? “I am so glad we are in this place together.” When we greet a stranger, we do so not knowing who they are, and yet by acknowledging them, we say “I am here.”

And in seeking the face of Christ in each other, the one who meets our eyes says “I know you.”

Have you ever considered the impact your greeting might have on another, or how their greeting might affect you? How do you welcome guests and newcomers to our faith community? Let’s explore this together, please share your impressions and suggestions.

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