Another way that we embrace each other and live into God's embrace of us to be regular at our practice of embracing. Like learning how many times on which cheek to kiss someone from France embraces have a language behind them, a set of standards to be observed. We know that value of these sorts of rules when we break them. Awkward!
There are also special patterns that help us to know when to embrace in love and when and how to accept an embrace. We greet each other during the Peace in a way that might not always work at Ingles.
It says something about how important a thing is that we visit it at particular times and on certain days of the week. When we set aside Sunday's for worship and prayer, for being quiet and being observant, for listening and celebrating we are admitting to ourselves and to the world what our focus finds for us, we are saying something about how we share in and value God's embrace of us.
Not all that we can describe of our regular observances and embraces is wonderful. Sometimes there's a disconnect between our relationship during the Peace and our relationship at Ingles. The pattern of greeting can become a kind of hiding place. We'll go through the motions and hope it doesn't last too long.
But it says something, doesn't it, that we come back Sunday after Sunday and practice a pattern of practicing a pattern. Isn't there an implication of hopefulness? Isn't there a wishing that things would be "Peaceful" all the time? For sure nobody comes to church because they get to fake their embraces. Our hope and our hunger for God's embrace get us to return to the time and place and to the practices called for within those moments.
Yes, there are the introverted and shy among us and we are often stretching them beyond their comfort levels. So the pattern and practice hopes to accommodate an overall need for expression AND restraint. We want people to "tell the truth" AND we want them to come back next Sunday and do the same.
Returning Sunday after Sunday also helps us to learn the language of God's embrace of us. It helps us get past the awkwardness of first meetings and new customs. It helps us to find ourselves being sought out, to find a waiting embrace across the aisle, to find an ease after the awkwardness, and ultimately to find the embrace of God's Peace.