To Reach Out and Touch Someone.

To Reach Out and Touch Someone

An understanding of personality trite action to perform in the middle preferences may help explain why some people like to greet others in church and others don't. Invariably when a church introduces the practice of turning around and extending a greeting to fellow worshipers, some members are very pleased to do so while others find it unpleasant. Perhaps personality has something to do with it.

The "extroverted feeler" loves to make contact with other people, loves the opportunity to reach out and touch someone, friend or stranger. For such a person the greeting is a high point of the service.

But an "introverted thinker" may find the whole practice rather distasteful. This person dislikes being forced to engage with other people and finds the expression of "God Morning" a rather mundane and trite action to perform in the middle of a worship service.

Difficulty results, of course, when those who like the practice begin arguing with those who don't. Not aware of their own personality preferences, and thus not ready to accept and respect the differences in others, they begin marshalling theological reasons to defend or disallow a particular practice, which can grow into personal putdowns of those holding other positions.

Research into the worship traditions of the church might help clear up some of these difficulties. With a little investigation, one soon finds that the "passing of the peace" has been part of Christian worship from the beginning. Reintroducing this liturgical act might be helpful. Worshipers turn to one another and extend the peace of the Lord. They shake hands or embrace and say, "The peace of the Lord be with you" ar "God's peace."

Giving this mutual greeting a more liturgical meaning may help the various worshipers. Those who enjoy the contact with people will still find the experience meaningful as they reach out and touch another person, establishing a bond of welcome. Those who hesitate to engage in the common "Good Morning" routine will find meaning in the more formal expression of God's peace and feel more secure that this is actually an integral part of the worship service in which they come to participate.

Robert A. Meyering is assistant director of marketing and admissions in the accelerated program for adult degree completion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Reformed Worship 23 © March 1992, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.