To the Church in Exile,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s meditation is from Danielle Merseles:
One day recently, I stumbled across an article online debating the future of handshakes. What caught my attention was the picture at the top – a zoomed in view of the hands of Adam and God depicted in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. The hands have rubber gloves on in this modern day illustration.
Touch. Closeness. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really thought about personal space in this way before. Keeping one another safe requires the opposite of how we are wired. God built us to be in relationships and created us to be close to one another. Being alone wasn’t the plan.
Today people are crossing the street to not get in my 6’ bubble on the sidewalk. A friend of mine remarked that her young kid is starting to understand space in 6’ increments and to keep away from people. A few weeks ago my goddaughter told me over zoom that she missed my hugs.
There is this desire to be close to one another replaced with this fear of touching one another. While many things about this season have been disorienting, this is the most significant one for me. In the past two months, I’ve mentioned Kate Bowler’s work so many times (I hope my co-workers aren’t eye rolling here…) but she talks about ‘skin hunger’ and ‘losing the gift of presence’ in her podcast this week. There is loss in these moments, not just of jobs, trips, schools, hope… but also of presence with one another. I wonder if we are making ourselves almost afraid of being physically close.
The reason the image in the handshake article stood out to me was because it’s wrong. Those two hands seen in that image are those of Adam and God. While human touch is limited, the touch of God isn’t. God’s touch knows no boundaries. Our skin hungers for it.
Psalm 31, today’s text, says this about God: 3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, 4take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 5Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” It continues: 14But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ 15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. 16Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
God’s hands are still close to us, still rescuing and redeeming. They can’t be stopped by 6’ rules. While we hunger for many things these days, may we be reminded that we all also hunger for connection with others. May we all see each other as people who desire a handshake or hug. May we remember that God doesn’t see us walking and move to the other side of the street. No, it’s God’s hands that bring, hug, deliver, provide, love, protect, encourage us still – even when we can’t do that for each other. I hope I can be gentle with myself when I long for hugs to return in 2020.
Jesus, may we today feel the embrace of our Creator. May we come to you with our longings for this season, with our desires to connect with people in this new way, with our sorrow over all the missed hugs and handshakes. May we see each person on the sidewalk as a human being, created in your image and loved by you. Amen
Associate Pastor of Youth & Young Adults
Bethany Presbyterian Church