I didn’t take seriously the verse that says to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16) until we started attending a French-speaking congregation near Waterloo (yes, the famous one) in Belgium.
The small church held perhaps 50 people, if that. Following the Sunday morning service, we all congregated outside on the cobblestone pavement to chat. At least that’s what I thought we were doing. But no. People were systematically greeting everyone with kisses on each cheek. When we’d first heard about this custom, my husband vowed he would never kiss another man, but it turned out the kisses were most often “air kisses”—our cheeks touched theirs while our lips smacked the air.
The point was that each person greeted every other person. No one was left out. Our youngest daughter, only five years old at the time, hid behind my skirts to avoid giving the expected kisses. One wiry gentleman, however, won her over in just a few Sundays. It might have had something to do with the Toblerone chocolate bar he brought her every week.
As for me, I was going through a period of doubt, wondering if God were real, relevant to life, or cared about what we thought or did. He seemed so far away. Wrong as it was, I kept my doubts to myself.
The kisses we got each week at church were only the beginning of the royal treatment we received. They loaned us a car, watched our children before and after school while we attended classes in tropical medicine, and gave us a key to the church so I could play the organ whenever I wanted. A couple who ran a dairy arranged to have milk delivered to our doorstep. Another family took us sledding.
When the chocolate-bearing gentleman found out we liked to play tennis, he took us to his tennis club. A couple with two boys asked us over for dinner and our kids hit it off with theirs. A single woman invited us for an afternoon tea that included petit fours and chocolates and champagne. One family after another invited us into their homes, even hosting our visitors from the States. During our few short months there, we were in the homes of six families.
It was also while we were part of that church that my heart began to soften once again toward God. May he bless each and every person who reached out to us!