December 24 - #AdventWord #Greeting
A “greeting” seems like such a simple thing, yet it can be deceptively complex. The word comes from the Old English “greting” which in verb form, “gretan,” meant to “come in contact with” in any form—from a welcoming salutation, to accosting someone, or even an attack. Here in the South, we all know well the layered complexity of such a seemingly simple act. I am reminded of a quintessentially Southern story involving then candidate Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian, and a political reporter covering the presidential campaign. The reporter arrived at Mrs. Carter’s home whereupon she greeted him with warmth and welcomed him into her home telling him, “It’s so good to see you.” During the interview, the reporter asked Mrs. Carter about her son’s promise to never tell a lie. To which she replied, “Well, there is a difference between a lie and a little white lie.” Thinking he’d caught her, he pounced, “What is the difference? Isn’t a lie just a lie?” Mrs. Carter sighed and said, “Do you remember when I told you it was so good to see you?”
In all three synoptic Gospels, Jesus warns of the potential duplicity of greetings as he tells of the scribes “who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets” [Mark 12:38-39, see also Luke 20:45-47 and Matthew 23:6-7]. Earlier in Matthew, Jesus asks, “And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?” [Matthew 5:47] This strikes at the heart of what we are called to do in this season of Advent as we are waiting to greet Him. We should remember that everyone we encounter every day, not just our family and friends, we are greeting by virtue of its very definition. If we do so with an open heart and a genuine love of neighbor, then we are truly living God’s call to us.
—George McDaniel, The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Summerville
As part of this effort to create a global, online advent calendar -- led by Forward Movement -- we will share a new word each day from November 28-December 25, 2021, with meditations from people around the diocese. Each day, the meditation will be accompanied by an image relating to the word of the day as well.