Sermon: The God Who Hugs

Christianity is unique in that it claims that God wants to physically walk with us – a point that comes out very strongly in the Gospel of Luke, in particular. So, it is not just our spirits, but also our bodily existence, that matters greatly to God.

Dad and AJ Cuddling
Dad and AJ Cuddling

I’d like to begin with this photo. Although my Dad had held our son AJ many times before this, this was the first time that AJ really sought out a snuggle with Grandpa. It was a special moment for them, and for me too: my Father still keeps a framed print of this on his nightstand.

Please join me in prayer…

Lord God, we lift up this morning’s message. May it touch our hearts, may it speak clearly to our souls. You have come to earth to reassure us, comfort us and heal us. You understand the importance of presence and touch. Speak to us now, Lord. Help us to love you in the ways you have wanted us to love you since the beginning, and help us learn how to actively share that love with all whom we encounter. Amen.

Physical touch is such an important thing. In fact, you can find references to physical intimacy (and no, I don’t mean THAT kind of intimacy) all through the Gospels and especially in the Gospel of Luke, beginning with the infant Jesus being held by the elderly Simeon and Anna in the temple in Luke 2, to the woman washing Jesus’ feet and drying them with her hair in Luke 7, to Judas the Betrayer (as a counterexample) hugging and kissing Jesus in Luke 22, and ending with Jesus request that the disciples touch him in this morning’s reading from Luke 24.

As I’m sure you know, research has shown that children who are not cuddled and lovingly held on a frequent basis, starting at birth, do not thrive: they do not develop as fast, and are not as healthy. Even now, at age 5, AJ still reaches for Mommy or Daddy, or his teacher, when he’s distressed. A hug, or even just the touch of a hand, will reassure him, calm him, and help him find stability. And then, once he’s there – he’s off again: playing, tromping in the mud, and climbing on everything!

How many of you remember Leo Buscaglia?

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