Hugging Both Sides of the Head

by Dr. Mark Brewer :: “As was His custom Jesus went up to the Temple…” As we study together for Lent the Book of Numbers many people ask “what’s with all the rules and regulations” for the children of Israel. Any anthropologist worth her salt will tell you how deep a culture’s customs and rituals reveals their values. When we traveled to Africa the last few weeks it is always a learning curve to adapt to the customs and social rituals of a new place. These are not just strange and ancient behaviors, they tell you about the values of the people. Like in the Congo we greeted each other by “hugging both sides of the head” three times. The pastor told me, “I cannot greet someone unless I welcome how they see things – both sides of the head.”

In LA, hand shaking has taken a back seat to “air kissing.” It doesn’t mean we aren’t social, but a new ritual the last few decades has taken hold. The ‘custom’ of Jesus was to go worship His Father. It told of His values. It whispered of what He thought was important. Way too many American Christians take worship as a “take it or leave it” sort of thing. It is not that we should be legalists and sabbatarians about life, but perhaps our casualness speaks more of our apathy than freedom. Watching people line up outside the doors of tin and mud houses of worship in the Congo sun spoke volumes of where their hearts were—firmly fixed on the Lord. May we learn from them.