Sunday, December 06, 2009

How are you?

Every Sunday morning at our church we have a custom of spending a couple of minutes at a particular point in the service to get out of our pews and greet each other, to shake hands or hug (depending on your level of familiarity). For the most part, everyone you encounter has a smile on their face, is glad to see you this morning, and may even take a moment to give a word of blessing or encouragement.  This morning the custom went not much differently than most weeks. Except ...

I lied to almost everyone there.  I only pretended to be "fine."  Probably only one or two people could tell something was amiss.  The rest of the people I encountered probably didn't have a clue. And I'm sure I wasn't the only liar in God's house this morning either.

Church isn't the only place where we blindly ask the "How are you?" question. We use that greeting literally everywhere we go. But when people answer, it seems no one really likes to admit to others that they are not alright. There can be many reasons for that:  They don't want to be the drama queen; They don't want to make a scene or draw attention to themselves; They don't want to talk; People who ask are doing so only to be polite - they really don't want to know, because they're hiding their own troubles.

Isn't it OK to be honest? Especially in church, with the people of God, people who can share your burdens, cry with you, pray with you? I'm not saying we should unload all of what is on our mind with everybody we encounter. There is a time and place for it, not necessarily during the greeting time. But why all the phoniness? God wants us to come as we are - He knows what we are going through even better than we do.

Maybe we are asking the wrong question when we greet each other. Maybe we should change it to something that doesn't have such a conditioned response. Since we are called to pray for one another, maybe a greeting such as "What's your prayer today?" or "How can I pray for you?" would elicit a more honest answer when God's people greet one another.  After all, isn't it better to be real than to pretend you have it all together?

What do you think?

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