Why Do We Greet Each Other?
One of the first things we do at church is greet one another. This happens when you see a friend in the parking lot, wave at someone across the sanctuary, or say “How are you?” to whomever you pass by. We even have a formal time of greeting at the beginning of our worship service, usually paired with several announcements. Why do we do this? Why don’t we just jump into singing or start with a scripture reading?
When we greet one another we follow in a tradition which began back in the early church. In many of the Apostle Paul’s letters he begins with a greeting to those in the church (Rom.1:7; 1Cor.1:3; Gal.1:3; Eph.1:2; Phil.1:2; etc.). Sometimes he would even bring greetings from another church. This was a way of connecting the body within itself.
Greeting each other establishes that we are all on equal footing before the throne of God by welcoming fellow believers into a time of worship. A ruler or higher ranking individual may receive a formal introduction, but wouldn’t typically greet his underlings with familiarity and honor. We, however, as those redeemed by Christ, bring greetings to each other as equals. This acknowledges the truth from Galatians 3:28, that in the church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
Our time of greeting and announcement also informs us of many things God is doing in our midst and how we can further connect with Him, each other, and the community around us. From the very beginning of the service we realize that we are a part of something greater than our own individual lives. There is work to be done and we are the ones called to do it. We are a part of the extended Kingdom of God, ministering as strangers and aliens in this world, for the great purpose of proclaiming the glory of Christ wherever God places us.
So, when you are greeted, remember the family that you are being welcomed into and rejoice at the work God has enabled you to do. Let that truth feed your soul and bring joy to your heart as you begin your time of corporate worship before Him.