It was well over a decade since Davie had hugged anyone. He wasn’t the touchy-feely demonstrative type, but he read that, from 17th May, people in Scotland had permission to hug their loved ones and close friends. He passed a book shop with, what looked like just the answer to his nervousness about hugging someone, the title was ‘How to Hug’. Alas, entering the shop and looking more closely it turned out to be the third volume of an encyclopedia covering subjects from ‘How’ to ‘Hug’. Not quite what he was looking for.
Some of you reading this will not be ‘huggy people’, indeed some people in the media are complaining about all the attention and publicity this fresh freedom to hug has got. I confess to being a person who likes to hug. I’ve not joined the ‘free hugs brigade’ who wander (outside of Covid restrictions) around city and town centres with the invitation written ‘Free Hugs!’ written on their shirts. Most people in our church are happy with a handshake (an elbow lately), while some love a hug, either way (in normal circumstances) after church services, for some, that little piece of physical connection is the only contact they have with another human all week.
Learning to hug each other, while minimising the risk of passing germs, is very possible I’m sure, but I suspect that most people will still not feel too free to share their hugs beyond nearest and dearest. What’s more important than whether we hug or not, is that we get creative in showing our love, care and concern for each other.
St Paul writes in Romans 12 (v.9a) “Love must be sincere.” Literally ‘sin-cere’ means ‘without wax’. In ancient days sometimes cracked pots had their cracks filled in with wax and painted to look flawless. Thus, to make sure a pot was ‘without wax’ buyers held them up to the sun’s heat to see if any wax-lines melted.
God’s Love for us is unadulterated, undiluted, passionate, pure and able to turn each of us inside out, when we let God transform us from inward looking, self-centred people to Christlike lovers of humanity. “God so loved (put your name in here) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). St Paul goes on to describe the daily eternal life which Jesus died to release in us”
“Love from the centre of who you are (sincere); don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” (Romans 12:9-16 / MSG)
Hugged and Enveloped in God’s Love, let’s be creative in sharing God’s Embrace!