Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.04.20)

There is a song I’ve loved since seminary called “The Hug Song”. It relates the story of a psychiatrist named Dan Morrow, who lost his job because he considered hugs to be therapeutic, but his boss thought they were inappropriate. 

The final verse says, “Now Dan doesn’t feel too bad for himself; in fact, he’s kind of proud, but he’s sorry for the folks who are locked away where hugging’s not allowed.”

That last phrase, “folks who are locked away where hugging’s not allowed” comes close to describing all of us these days. Except for the people with whom we are quarantining, the practice of hugging, something which formerly we may have taken for granted, is simply too risky. And the fact that we shouldn’t hug, no matter how great the urge, just makes us miss embraces even more.

Parkway has always been known as a “hugging church”. Not everyone has felt comfortable participating, but the common scene before and after worship, in fact, any time we gathered, was people hugging. I miss that and I’m sure many of you do too.

The chorus of The Hug Song says:
I wanna hug when you say hello,
I wanna hug when it’s time to go.
I wanna hug because everyone knows
Hugging is good for you.
I wanna hug, it’s a wonderful feeling,
Wanna hug, it helps with the healing.
Wanna hug, because hugging feels
Like a natural thing to do.

Yes, it’s a natural thing to do, but we can’t hug right now. However, we’re resourceful people. If hugs are a tangible way of expressing love, concern, encouragement, empathy, or any other positive feeling, then we’ll just have to find other ways to express ourselves.

Write a note. Make a phone call. When you see someone (like at outdoor worship) offer a “virtual hug” from a respectful distance. Say a prayer for someone – then let them know. Smile (or, if you’re wearing a mask, smile with your eyes). Do a good deed. Use your imagination.

If one means of expressing affection for one another is temporarily suspended, then we just have to find another. Remember Jesus’ exhortation from The Gospel of John: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). 

Hugging may be temporarily out of bounds, but I have faith in you. You’ll find a way to show people that you care – and the Spirit of Christ will show you how.