Truly an expression of brotherly affection

Several years ago at a Mennonite funeral in the lobby area, I noticed two men who apparently had not seen each other in some time give each other a kiss on both cheeks and embrace one another. This was very interesting to me as in scripture I Peter 5:14 stated, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” This was the first time that I had seen this custom in a Church setting.

What does it mean? The Greek term for “greet” literally means, “to draw to one’s self; to salute one, bid welcome, wish well, ‘to receive joyfully, to welcome.”

In New Testament Community, to greet someone meant to embrace warmly with love. It was much more than just saying “hello.” It was saying, “You make life better because you are here, I am glad to share in your life.”

The French are famous for the custom of greeting people with kisses on the cheeks. This custom is called in French se faire la bise, which is not translatable into other languages: literally, it means to do the peck (little kiss).

A number of years ago a man of God, Brian Graham had come to visit the Church. Brian had been diagnosed with cancer and we where fortunate to have him in our midst. One afternoon I had went to the hotel room to visit with him as I sensed that this would probably be my last time to see Brian. He was tired and lay in bed and I just sat on the edge of the bed and listen to his counsel as a father to his son. When we came to the place of ending our discussion this scripture came to mind found in Acts chapter 20 of Paul’s departure. In those short moments of embracing, the kissing of the cheeks and the sharing of tears the ancient communication of brotherly love was being affectionately demonstrated which said, “You make life better because you are here and I am glad to have shared in your life.” It was my last time to spend time with Brian before he entered into heaven, yet I can only picture Jesus Christ walking up to Brian that day embracing him and giving him a holy kiss and saying, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Let us greet one another with the same brotherly affection, amen.