Kissing two times, once on alternate cheeks. Kissing three times, or even four. Bowing slightly. Bowing deeply. A vigorous handshake. Kissing another’s hand. Waving. Tipping one’s hat. Hugging.
The greetings are as diverse as our cultures could allow. But the point is the same: to acknowlege the presence of another with respect, or even gratitude. Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, Jesus says in this short reading for Sunday, June 26, right as he’s sending the 12 out to do ministry in the surrounding towns and villages.
It is common these days for churches to think about their ministry of hospitality. Usually this means how they welcome others into their congregations, especially newcomers. And there are a variety of ways to be hospitable!
It is less common to do as Jesus presumes here in Matthew: to send the disciples out to new mission fields. To put oneself in the position to receive the welcome, not give it. For you, which one seems like the bigger faith endeavor?
Welcoming God, may we be gracious to welcome, and faithful to the calling to receive others’ welcomes, too. Amen.