I confess it…I am a hugger! Even though it is no longer politically correct and considered by many to be inappropriate, I believe strongly in the power of touch.
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and said, “Be clean” (Mark 1:41). I won’t even get into the issue of the fact Jesus was touching a leper which was uber-politically incorrect in his day.
I have always communicated with touch—a hug, a squeeze of the arm, a hand on the shoulder—It’s who I am.
Because of the climate of our culture today, I have had to work hard to not do this, especially in my work in the schools, and I understand that. But when you see a youngster (or an adult for that matter) hurting or in need, it’s difficult not to reach out.
And then comes the “social-distancing” ethos of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hate to tell the CDC, but our nation has been practicing social-distancing for a number of years now, and it goes a lot deeper than physical touch. But I digress.
So, no hugging, no touching, no handshaking, stay at least six feet apart at all times.
The first Sunday at my home church in LaPorte, after social-distancing was introduced by the CDC, it was weird. Hand sanitizers all over the building, especially at the welcome center. Waving, elbow-bumping, fist-bumping, everyone kind of joking about it all.
At the end of the service, a man approached me in the foyer, and I could tell he was struggling. I have to confess that I didn’t even know his name. With watery eyes he said, “Pastor Jones, I know we’re social-distancing and all, but can I hug you?” And I thought of Jesus and the leper, and we hugged.
That was the last service before churches closed. Today, in the midst of all of the news reports concerning the coronavirus (that's about all the news being reported), Dr. Anthony Fauci, physician and immunologist on the White House COVID-19 commission made this statement—“When the pandemic is over the new normal will be compulsive hand-washing and the end of handshaking in our society.”
And that’s probably the saddest thing I’ve heard all day.