How many times a week do you greet someone? Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you either introduce yourself to someone new or say hello to a friend you know well. How do you make these greetings meaningful? Do you think about the impression you leave on someone just by smiling and saying hello? How about when you introduce a friend to another person? Do you go out of your way to make the “greeting” memorable?
At an early age, our parents taught us to mind our manners when we meet someone new. Reminders of etiquette included “smile”, “have a firm handshake”, “make eye contact”, say “nice to meet you”. It is not always easy to do, is it? Or it wasn’t back when we were little and adults sometimes seemed a bit scary or intimidating. If you are meeting someone new, it is all about being confident and trying to be in moment with this new individual. It takes some practice for many of us. We also want the person we are meeting to remember us. How do we make a positive, memorable impression? Again, easy to say, hard to do. For me, it is easier to meet someone new if I am being introduced rather than initiating the greeting or first meeting. It gives you a common ground on which to begin. With practice, it becomes easier the more we think about greeting someone for the first time.
Think of the world today and how greetings have changed. We often “meet” people online, via e’mail, or on a conference call. How do we make these initial introductions important? Do you have a phrase you use? “Nice to know you” is my favorite. Even greeting someone on the trail; you may not know the person but on a run or walk, it’s hard to pass someone without giving some sort of acknowledgement, such as a wave or “good morning”.
In today’s reading, Paul helps point out how important greetings can be. He starts out greeting women and fellow workers in the church. He almost goes around the room introducing each person. I can hear the excitement and compassion he has for these people as he goes through the round of greetings. He wants people to know these women. He also demonstrates the significance of these women in the early days of the church. He demonstrates his caring attitude toward those who worked hard with him and for him, and those who stood by him. He wants to offer proper greetings.
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
May we be role models in greeting others, both those people who we may know and those we are meeting for the first time. Let us make a concerted effort in our “greetings” to introduce friends to other friends. May we use greetings as a way to practice being good role models and good disciples. Make a stranger’s day with a friendly hello. Don’t wait to be told to make that introduction or greeting. Just do it!