As I write this, I get the feeling that saying hello to people that you have yet to really meet is an exercise in faith. After all, everybody wants to make a good first impression. How long should this greeting be? What kind of things should I say? Should I risk trying to be funny or should I play it safe? Where to look for guidance on such things?

Greetings play an important role in the New Testament of our Bible. They can be found in Paul’s letters, in Jesus’ teachings to the apostles about spreading the good news, and in the book of Acts. Generally speaking, those instances are about establishing good beginnings with the expectation that people will find the good in each other. And then there is the greeting between the angel Gabriel and Mary.

And now, as I continue to write, this one stands out. It’s different than the other ones. That’s because it’s about first finding the good that God has placed in us before trying to establish good beginnings. The greeting between Gabriel and Mary establishes a new beginning. Namely, the beginning of a radical change in humanity’s relationship to God because of Emmanuel, “God with us” — each of us with a personal relationship to God. Which leads me to a thought…

Maybe greetings are not so much about making good first impressions, but about a common desire to know God with us and God within us. If each of us has a personal relationship with our collective creator, then each of us has a personal greeting to offer and a collective greeting to offer. What might it mean for us to think about how God has greeted each of us individually, to have that be the foundation of greeting each other? Would we better understand our own faith? Would our dreams flourish — dreams of our community’s calling to grow in faith, share the good news of the love of God and serve the community?

As we greet each other individually and collectively, I pray that we feel the excitement, inspiration and desire to be Church that comes with all of that. May God bless each and every one of you, And every one you touch.

–Rev. Eric Lukacs