Sunday morning as I arrived at church I took quite the tumble. The response of the people at the church was awesome. Two nurses, four other men, an OT, the Pastor's spouse, and a retired Pastor with his choir robes flowing in the breeze. They got me into a wheelchair, back onto my scooter, did the requisite assessments, and grabbed an ice pack. Everyone was helpful, concerned, and on point with their response. When it was all over, in fact, after I arrived home, I kept feeling as though something was missing in the response. There was something else I could have used, but what was it? A hug. I really could have used a good, comforting, life-affirming hug. In recent years, in our attempt to guard against inappropriate hugs we have pretty much ceased this method of communication. Oh, we may now and then give one of those side-hugs, but sometimes what is needed is an old-fashioned front-to-front, or at least arms-shoulders-heads A-frame hug. People need that person-to-person touch, and I hope we can find a way to swing the pendulum back a bit and recover it.
There was a time in which Jesus was surrounded by people, and yet sensed some healing power had gone out from him. The disciples mocked him, pointing out the press of humanity all around, but he turned around and found her: the woman who had had a flow of blood for 18 years. It had separated her from her family, from her community, from her place of worship. I imagine the encounter goes something like this: he notices her by her down-turned eyes, reaches his hand down and stands her up. She protests, as the touch will make him also unclean, but he persists. "Daughter, your faith has made you well," he says, and he wraps his arms around her in a life-giving, reconciling, welcoming embrace. With that she re-enters society, and begins to feel strong again. We need to find a way to return to hugging one another again.
Loving God, in response to real concerns in our world we seem to have gone a bit too far trying not to impose ourselves on one another. The gift of human touch is so important that it truly can bring a sense of healing and power to the one receiving it. Help us to be the beginning of a movement in which hugs become a part of our interactions with one another again. Yes, we know we need to be respectful and ask first, but when permission is granted, be with us as we wrap our loving arms around one another to convey your love......Amen.