Shaking Hands - Rev. Jody Long
As most of you know, I’m a people person. I’m the big extrovert in the Long family. I like getting to know people and hearing their story. I like becoming part of others’ lives because it makes my life richer and fuller. That’s one of the great gifts of ministering: people invite you into their lives, through good and bad times, and allow you to become family.
A while back, Julie helped start a young minister’s group, here in Macon, made up of pastors and associate pastors from various denominations who are about our age. We meet and catch up on life as well as share the story of our ministry. We read and study together as well as gather for times of fun and fellowship. In our current book study, there is an article by Martin Copenhaver, “Shaking Hands” that struck a chord within me.
Copenhaver describes the deep blessing of “shaking hands” after the worship service. He’s also honest about the difficulties that come with such a blessing. Every Sunday as you exit the sanctuary, you give me and the other ministers a gift: you shake our hands. During these brief encounters, much takes place. Maybe you quickly update us on the status of your ailing father or sick spouse. Maybe you offer a word of thanks for something said or done during the service that touched you. Maybe you ask about what’s going on in our own lives. Maybe you introduce us to an out-of-town friend or a next-door neighbor who came to worship with us. There are some times when you come to us to voice displeasure about recent events at church. Some times, you offer stinging, but good, criticism of a sermon. Some times, you ask questions for which grope for an answer only to come up empty handed.
When we shake hands on Sunday mornings as we depart from worship, our lives collide in a way that rarely happens outside of church. Minister becomes congregation member; member becomes minister. A common gesture is transformed into a grace-filled blessing. Lives touch – literally and figuratively – and lives are made new.
This week as you shake hands with the ministers, know you are giving us a gift. Your gift of love, acceptance, care, and trust is one we don’t take lightly. This Sunday, after worship, do yourself a favor. Give the life-changing gift of shaking hands to someone else and gladly receive their gift in return.