The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

October 27, 2010

The Hug

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 10:44 pm

I remember the moment vividly. There was no introduction, no casual conversation, no words were spoken, none were needed- out of nowhere dad simply gave me a hug. He gently placed his arms around me. My head rested on his shoulder as we embraced for a long while. He held me that way, a beautiful way, which spoke powerfully to my heart and soul. Clarity came at this pivotal time as I could sense the full meaning of this moment, of this hug. I felt the truth of his intentions rather than hearing them spoken out loud. All time seemed to stop. To the very core of my bones these powerful truths reverberated – “I love you, son”, “I am with you”, “You are special”, “You are cared for”, “You will see me again.” I wanted this moment to last forever but all things must come to end especially our dreams. You see, the hug I just relived was a dream.

Please don’t get the wrong impression. My dad hugged a great deal over the course of his life especially the last few years before his death. There were many unforgettable moments of hugs which I could embellish but won’t take up the time now; however, he seemed to know exactly the right time to assure me, comfort me, welcome me, or simply connect with me in way words couldn’t. This was true with all our family. But, this dream, this special moment out of The Twilight Zone, is the hug that seems to have struck a special cord on my heart. What happened in my dream inspired me to consider the powerful lasting effects of hugging. Perhaps that was the intention or nudge from God?

There was a study that showed hugging increased levels of oxytocin, a “bonding” hormone, and reduced blood pressure – which cuts the risk of heart disease. “This growing body of research only goes to highlight how important social support is for everyone, not just those in a relationship” Dr Charmaine Griffiths, British Heart Foundation- BBC NEWS, Monday, 8 August 2005. But truthfully, we already knew this instinctively in our hearts, didn’t we? I mean really. A hug? Useless? Never! Just ask my grand-daughters! For that matter, ask my church family! I’m sure by now most of them are tired of my hugging.

In the Bible hugs were very powerful, meaningful, and moving moments. Remember when Joseph finally revealed the truth of his identity to his little brother Benjamin? Genesis 45:14 captures this moment this way, “Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.” Remember the beautiful Parable of the Prodigal Son the moment when his father saw his child coming home? Luke 15:20 says, “…but when he was a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” Finally, as the Apostle Paul had spoken his last words of advice to his friends from Ephesus the moment was expressed in this way in Acts 20:37, “Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him.” The phrase “falling on the neck” describes a physical act of embracing another person. Hugging is what we would call such embracing today and it is just as powerful, meaningful, and moving as it was then. We need the special unique impact of hugs now more than ever!

I know that I dreamed my dad giving me a hug. But his hug moved me, inspired me. He embraced my heart. This is the key in hugging. When I hug, I truly am embracing your very heart. I am making a unique connection. I am saying to you through my embrace, even if it is just for a moment, that life is short, I may not pass this way again, that I love you, I value you, that you do not stand alone, so let’s celebrate life together. I accomplish this all with a simple beautiful thing called the hug.

Bruce Kessler
South Canadian Valley Church of Christ
Norman, OK

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October 15, 2010

The church

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 10:11 pm

The church

Sometimes you see a truth in scripture that jumps out at you like never before. I believe of course this is God working His greatness in revealing nuggets of truth. Such was the case as I came across two passages while studying. One is in Romans 16:3-5 and the other is a parallel verse in 1 Corinthians 16:19. Paul had a tremendous relationship with a couple named Aquila and Priscilla who had labored and worked diligently by his side even to the point of risking their lives for him. Yet, this was not the truth God thought I needed to hear or read at the present. Here was the two phrases that caught my attention- 1 Cor.16:19 “…with the church that is in their house.”; Ro.16:5 “Likewise greet the church that is in their house.”

If I asked you to define the church what would you say? Many people today identify the church as a building. In fact, sadly, many of us that have been part of the church for many years have slowly over time fallen prey to this association. But found within these two phrases are really the simplest definition of what the church is and is not. The church IS NOT a building but IS comprised of people. Notice what the Apostle Paul says here- “…the church that is IN their house.” This is so simple yet so profound. You see, with all our expensive buildings, our awesome technological advances, our state of the art equipment, and our fine comfortable pews, what is the most essential and should never be lost is, well, the church. In other words, it’s the people, stupid.

The word church comes from a Greek word ekklesia which is defined either as “an assembly” or “a called out people.” But in either case we are always dealing with real people. Jesus in dying on the cross didn’t die to save buildings but people. The church consists of people who have entered a relationship with Jesus. In the latter part of Acts 2:47 this passage clearly shows this truth by saying,”…And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” But that wonderful re-established relationship with the Lord doesn’t end there. We enter new relationships with each other! In fact, back up to verses 42-46 of Acts 2 and you will see believers living and experiencing these new relationships but also you will see how those dynamic relationships impacted the community.

God re-focused my spiritual vision back to the central cause of Jesus and His church- people. The world is moving at a fast pace and there is always distractions in our life-journey. Remember what is important- people, our souls, and our relationships.

Bruce Kessler,
South Canadian Valley church of Christ, Norman, OK

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