The Holy Kiss

I don’t usually post about my faith. I should amend that to say that I am always posting about my faith but I don’t usually post about it in quite this much detail. This, being the day before Easter, however I feel compelled to put some things down. This feast day is the reason that those of us who profess to be Christians, um, profess to be Christians. Without Easter, Christianity makes no sense, really…so there you have it.

For whatever reason I’ve been contemplating lately The Holy Kiss. This phrase has come to me again and again in the last year and it was just today that I thought to google it. I was contemplating writing a poem or a song or something. It’s just such a good visual, filled with all kinds of promise, yes?

In the early Christian church there developed a ritual greeting which was called “the Holy Kiss.” It was common in the culture to greet one another with a kiss. This practice, during gatherings of Christians though moved beyond the traditional nicety. It became a sign of such deep affection that it came to be seen as a sacred act. It was one of the things which DEFINED them as community.

We see the remains of this in some church services which embrace the “sign of peace” or “passing the peace.” For the most part, however, in our own culture we’ve moved away from the physical touch, away from showing this deep affection for one another. It is simply not done. It’s not alright. It’s not accepted.

I find though that I am drawn inexplicably to this idea. It’s an intruiging one especially for the latent German Catholic in me; this part of me which shies away from touch because of my own fears. The little voice present in the back (or sometimes front) of my head which tells me that I am not worthy of touch…I am not soft enough, I am not warm enough, I am not deserving of it.

This then takes me right into the acts of Christ in the New Testament…touching the untouchable, using his hands to heal and of course, my favorite; the story of the bleeding woman. When the hem of Christ’s robe is touched by the woman he FEELS it. Christ was all about touch, all about the Holy Kiss.

I wonder if He knew that it would be this very Holy Kiss which would signal His betrayal.

These are the thoughts that drive through my mind today, Holy Saturday…the day that I, as a follower of Christ and believer in His divinity, wait. We, as a body, wait for the chance to greet one another anew, on Easter Sunday with the realization that He is Risen and perhaps one day…the return of The Holy Kiss.

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7 thoughts on “The Holy Kiss

  1. Great thoughts, Mrs M. I, too, am very moved by how “hands-on” Christ was with even the ones considered the most untouchable in his society. His example constantly reveals the often anemic quality of my own amount of willingness to do likewise.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to quote at length from Thomas McKenzie’s blog ( http://ihajj.blogspot.com ). He’s the priest of a certain Anglican congregation (ahem!), and this is from a post he wrote in December 2007. It’s completely on topic, as he addresses the question someone asked about why he kissed the Bible during the service.

    “…[In] our services there is a great deal of kissing. I kiss my stole just before I put it on and just after I take it off. (The stole is a long scarf-like item with a small cross that sits on the back of my neck. I kiss it on the cross). I kiss the altar table upon approaching it for the first time in the service, and kiss it again just before I leave. And I kiss the Gospel book when the Gospel is read to the people.

    I also kiss my wife and children when they come up for communion. That is not a liturgical act, but has emerged naturally from our relationship.

    In the history of liturgy, people used to kiss at the passing of the Peace (men kissed men, women kissed women). Now we tend to hug or shake hands. In the Orthodox church, people kiss holy objects such as icons. I participate in this practice in my private devotions, but rarely in public worship.

    So, what’s with the kissing? Well, people kiss what they love. And sometimes people kiss objects that symbolize people or places or ideas that they love. You might kiss a letter before you send it to your boyfriend. You might kiss the picture of your kids you bring with you on a long trip. A star might blow a kiss to a crowd of fans. A hostage might kiss the ground when he finally returns to his home country.

    In the church, we kiss (I kiss) the altar/table where we celebrate the sacrifice of Christ. We/I kiss the book that holds the very words of God-made-Human. I kiss the stole that is a sign both of my duty and my un-earned privilege to serve the Lord in His Church. It really isn’t the objects themselves that are so interesting, it is the amazing and awe-full God which they point to.

    So, that is why I kissed the book [before reading the Scripture]. And will continue to kiss the book. Because the book is a picture, the picture of the Most Beloved. And I am on a long trip, missing Him.”

  2. I’m like Father McKenzie (is that a for real name or is he a priestly Beatles fan writing a blog). I hug and kiss my parents and family and then very Britishly I shake hands with friends or other members of the congregation.

    I think it’s because I don’t love my fellow human beings enough for a kiss to feel genuine…

    I, like you, love the story of the bleeding woman. I love the way she’s so worried and guilty about what she’s done. Very womanly!

    Cheers

    BC

  3. When I lived in Chicago, I had a friend who always kissed me when we parted, and sometimes when we greeted one another. Her husband was a kisser, too.

    Upon leaving Chicago that was one of the things that I decided to “bring” with me when I left. I am stretching myself more and more to kiss people when I say goodbye. It is only women, and they are not always close friends. There is just something so intimate about a kiss and I feel it says you are worth the touch. I am willing to risk rejection, or health or…

    No I wont kiss someone if they truly shy away…but in the 5 years that I have been here in Madison I have never had that happen. I think that we as humans crave that tenderness that comes from a kiss.

    Kissing is a stretch for me…because my love language is words of affirmation…the way that I receive love but I have taken joy in becoming a kisser…and more and more my friends are beginning to greet me with a kiss now as well.

    Mrs. M , Thanks again for your thoughtful post and perhaps one day I will kiss you again in person but for now XOXOXO!

  4. I’ve been thinking about this too/working up to a blog aboout it, as during part of the Good Friday service at my church we all got the chance to kiss the cross.

    On paper, in the order of service, it seemed like the most ridiculous thing. Un-necessarily anglo-catholic/ritualistic. But. When the ritual started it took me out. Undid me. And I walked forward to take my turn with tears trickling down my face.

    x

  5. Pingback: Mrs Euphemism « Mrs Metaphor

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