National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

To kiss—or not …

October 2013

by Reid Matthias

After worship I take up my regular spot at the back of the church. Like a smiling sentinel, it’s my responsibility to greet worshippers as they exit the building. I wait, listening for the swarm to reach me, their voices humming—most assuredly talking about how wonderful the sermon was.

As they approach me, I always have a niggling thought wriggling through my mind: ‘How am I supposed to greet them?’

Let’s be honest. For the most part, Australians are kissers. When I first met my mother-in-law, she greeted me with a kiss. I wasn’t prepared for it. She just leaned in and there it was—lipstick on the young American’s cheek.

I really don’t know how it’s supposed to work. Are there rules for ‘greeting each other with a holy kiss’, as Paul tells us in Romans 16:16? Is there a specific cheek? What about actual lip contact? Some of the women who kiss kind of go through the motion of kissing and then just make the sound of kissing somewhere in the vicinity of my whiskered jaw. I’m awkward and clumsy when it comes to fulfilling Paul’s greeting.

The swarm reaches me. The guys are easy. These farmers with their great big, meaty hands swallowing mine; they clap me on the back, talk about the weather and get out the door.