Scripture: Psalm 85
Key verse: (10) Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Reflection: One of the first things I had to learn with my first congregation in Montreal was how to kiss. Still heavily influenced by its French-European roots, people in Quebec, when greeting you as a friend, will lean in and either kiss both cheeks or offer you their cheek to be kissed. WASPy as I am, this affectation took some getting used to and not knowing the rhythms of the practice I awkwardly went for a cheek only to land on an ear, nose and once memorably, a pair of lips. However, by the time we moved to Toronto it was so natural to observe this practice, I couldn’t figure out why every time I leaned in when greeting a woman they would lean back further away from me extending their hand that I was shaking. I imagined them at coffee hour saying the new minister is nice but a bit too familiar. Did he try to kiss you too?
In Africa when meeting together you might be kissed, embraced, or a man might hold your hand longer than you think another man needs to hold your hand. But once we move past our discomfort, if we can get past our discomfort, we discover the gift of touch and the gentle intimacy that is created when greeting one another in such a way. Friends are made faster and conversation flows quicker in such a tactile culture.
The psalmist today is a great poet but also one who was simply observing his daily culture. The psalmist would be very familiar with touch (many in the middle East will kiss you three times when greeting you!) and imagined that in God’s presence, mercy and truth, righteousness and peace were as familiar as friends and as close as neighbors. He describes them kissing, happy to be in one another’s company. If I could paint I would try to paint this evocative image. Maybe it would look like a Sunday morning when we pass the peace? After all, the Bible does say more than once, that we ought to greet one another with a holy kiss.
Prayer: Lord, in this wonderful, yet weary world, let righteousness and peace kiss and may we be drawn into that holy, joyous embrace. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].