June 30, 2021 - A Holy Kiss
"Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss." (1st Thessalonians 5:26)
I often wonder about the origins of things. Take for example, kissing. In my cursory research, I found that some social anthropologists believe that kissing actually began between a mother and infant child. It was not about emotions but survival. The mother would chew up food and then push it to her lips, kiss the baby, and push some of the food into its mouth - much like a mother bird would do to its baby in the nest.
Another theory was that ancient men and women would kiss and taste each others saliva to see if they would be compatible mates. I have slight autism [my daughters diagnosed me] so this is making me a little sick to my stomach just describing this stuff.
In today's environment there are too many factors that would skew the data - Scope, Tick Tacs, Gum, coffee, bad dental care, etc... I would like to interject at this point that when two people kiss they pass, on average, 80 million micro levels of bacteria.
It is also interesting to note that Living Science has demonstrated that men and women do unconsciously pick up on taste and smell of potential mates that, subsequently, have proven to strengthen the immune system of potential and subsequent generations produced by the other activities incited by that kiss. In other words, something about kissing helps keep the human race alive and literally, well.
The earliest written texts about kissing are found in Sanskrit and in the Indus Valley in India. They are texts about a simple form of intimate passion between family members, friends, and lovers. Another interesting thing to note is that the vast amount of kissing being done is not linked to romance but greetings and friendship. It is presumed to have been taken up by the Greeks and Romans and by the West, in general, as a form of greeting but also in the more intimate contexts.
Not to be outdone, the Church itself took up the practice. In Latin it is called osculum pacis - "the kiss of peace." The Roman Catholic Church changed the name at some point so that it is called, "the sign of peace." I find it interesting that we have adopted something that was the last act of betrayal by Judas Iscariot at the arrest of Jesus in the Garden. "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:47) "Yes, yes I am."
My first kiss on the lips was not memorable, well, it was...it was by my Aunt Norma at a wedding reception. She came in from a side attack and I couldn't do anything but tighten up and wait for the post arm sleeve wipe. Yuck! I quickly formulated a plan with frontal attack family members. Act like your coming in for the kill and at that last minute turn your head. I honed this skill while saying goodbye to Deb's grandma. I call it my "evasion kiss." Slightly to the side. No lips. All cheek. Still creepy but less offensive than almost throwing up or running away screaming, "I'd rather die!"
Unfortunately, my like-minded granddaughter for some reason decided she needed to plant one on me. I laughed in panic as this insistent kindergartner tried to kill me. Head moving side to side like a grandpa bobble head on a bumpy road. Trying to avoid the torture of the moment, Gloria Gaynor's song kept running through my head, "I Will Survive."
Not too many churches that I am affiliated with do the "kiss" greeting anymore. We shake hands. We hug. We tell each other, "You are loved." It is family after all.
In all seriousness, I write today to remember a brother in Christ who died of Covid last week. He was a beloved friend and colaborer in worship. He loved children like no other and sought to bring them into the kingdom of God. He was an old rock-n-roller who was radically saved and spent his life trying to serve Jesus. Our loss is God's gain.
I still miss every Sunday morning that I would see him at the front of the sanctuary. Without fail, His 6' 6'' tall frame always bending down a little and my 5' 11'' frame always tippy-toeing up to him. A bear hug greeting from my brother, Rob. Our kiss of peace in a manly way. "Yous (not a type-o) are loved." Many a Sunday morning that was so desperately needed. Right back at you my, friend, my brother in Jesus. Finally home. Receiving the best kiss of all - the warm embrace of his Savior. I'll miss that on this side of heaven but look forward to it when I arrive.
Now back to those germs and years of therapy because of Norma...