Focal verse 

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:13).

Reflection

The kids and I try to get outside on most days. We love to walk around the park, pass by our town’s shops, and ride scooters up and down the local hills. But there’s something about the summer months that makes getting outside more enjoyable. As the weather gets warmer and the days lengthen, we see more and more people outside. From our home we watch families come to the playground across the street. From the front yard we wave to walkers and bike riders. On our own walks, we watch people tend to their lawns and gardens.

The summer season provides ample opportunities to greet our neighbors. We have time to ask how our friends are doing. We have time to hear stories, receive prayer requests and learn about upcoming plans. At the heart of our interactions, we get to see everyone we encounter as God’s people.

Most worship services include a greeting that takes place at the beginning of the service. The pastor or worship leader says words from 2 Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” The people respond: “And also with you.” I love that the greeting includes a call and response between the pastor and people. The greeting is meant as an invitation and awareness to God’s presence among us. It is meant to be shared.

The greeting in our worship services is a small but mighty piece of the liturgy in that it models for us how to greet others. But in all encounters—not just those on Sunday mornings—we’re given the chance to share God’s love and presence with others. Not just with those who look and act like us, but with all of God’s people. And in return, we get to receive their greetings and blessings back.

This summer take time to be intentional with how you greet others. When you walk around your neighborhood, take a moment to greet the people you pass by. Ask them how they are and listen to their response. Offer a word of encouragement. See if they have any prayer requests you can hold with them.

Every time we worship, we practice greeting as Christ does—with love, grace and welcoming arms. Living the liturgy daily means we can teach our kids to meet, greet and welcome as Christ does, seeing everyone as a beloved child of God.

Practices

* Take a walk around your neighborhood and stop to talk with people. Ask them how they are doing and if they have anything you could hold in prayer for them.

*In worship (whether in person or online) listen for the greeting offered by the pastor. When it’s your turn to respond with “And also with you,” extend your arms with palms up to physically express the greeting.

*Leave greetings of hope and love in random places for people to find. As a family, write your own greetings (God loves you, Christ be with you, Peace be with you) and leave them on porches, on park benches or at a table in a restaurant. You could even write them on the ground with sidewalk chalk!

Prayers

We pray for neighborhoods, that they may be safe and welcoming.
We pray for summer camps and vacation Bible school programs.
We pray for friends near and far who need a word of encouragement.
We give thanks for water that nourishes our plants and helps crops grow.
We give thanks for conversations with friends and neighbors.
We give thanks for worship opportunities both inside and outside the church.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.

Service opportunity

As more and more places open in the coming months, see if your family can volunteer at a group home or nursing home to take a walk with residents. After months of limited visitors, they may appreciate the chance to tell stories and be outside greeting others.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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