While the Handshake is on Hiatus: An Idea for a Touch-Free Greeting

the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. -Romans 16:20

You know, Christians have always had a special gesture for greeting one another and for saying goodbye. In the early church, it was a holy kiss. I’m not sure exactly what that kiss looked like, but it was the sign by which believers showed their love and friendly support to one another.

Of course, this would be a total violation of the 6-feet rule today.

Down through the centuries the greeting morphed and changed according to cultural custom. In some cases they would bow, or maybe just tip their hat, but there was always some form of greeting.

Somewhere along the way Christians adopted the handshake, a gesture that had first shown up way back in ancient Greece. The handshake symbolized peace because it proved that neither person was holding a weapon in their right hand.

So what to do now?

Since Dr. Fauci recommends that we never shake hands again, and for the foreseeable future we will be observing the 6-feet rule, how do we greet each other? With just a wave or a nod? Surely we can do better than that.

Here’s an idea.

Our church had our first small gatherings last weekend as part of a staged transitional plan toward assembling again. We have always made time for greeting a priority in our schedule because it gives folks an opportunity to connect. So, instead of shaking hands, we tried something new and different – from 6 feet apart.

Here’s what we did. We signaled “grace” to each other.

Grace is a powerful word that represents all that we have freely received because of Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). And because grace is such a big part of who we are and what we believe as Christians, we researched how to say the word in sign-language.

So, how to sign “grace“? The form varies a little depending on who you ask, but it goes something like this:

Hold your right hand up about eye-level with a loose fist and then simply bring your hand to the left side of your chest (Here’s a demo).


Beautiful, isn’t it?

Like a handshake, signing “grace” is loaded with meaning. It represents the idea that you belong, you’re loved, you’re accepted, you’re supported, and by God’s grace, everything’s going to be alright.

We’ll have to wait and see if the handshake makes a comeback eventually, but in the meantime, grace.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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