God, Greeters and Germs

There may be an unwritten truth that I feel I need to speak about and within that truth lies a confession that I must acknowledge.

See I’m quite sure that lost in translation, or buried deep in a Dead Sea scroll must be a promise, a covenant, from God.  It would go something like this: 

“I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and thou shalt not be inflicted nor infected with anything harmful while in the house of the LORD.  This is My covenant to My people.”

A little history:
When I was in college, I took a lot of pre-med type courses; my favorite subjects were the biological sciences.  The most memorable and life-altering course I took was Microbiology.  Memorable because I adored my professor; he was smart, wise and grandpa-ish.  I could not get enough of him and the class material.  The class was mentally stimulating and I was always on my toes since my lab partner was a klutz.  I was forever on guard and calling out “SPILL!” when my partner tipped over beakers of ominous creatures.  Those moments were really like a mini epic version of the movie Outbreak.  Ahh, good times!

As for life-altering… well let’s just say that I never saw germs and their ever present presence in the world and my life the same way again.  In fact I have grown into a bit of a germaphobe, all because of this class.  It’s a phobia I have to constantly keep in check so I don’t become like Howie Mandel (oh my gosh, I love that guy!).  I think Dr Phil would technically call this “mysophobia” (anxiety disorder characterized by an overreaction to the slightest uncleanliness or an irrational fear of dirt, contamination, or defilement), BUT Dr Phil is wrong; to my knowledge he didn’t take Microbiology and thus does not know what I know.  Therefore, everyone SHOULD be fearful of germs and not label the smarter people, like myself and Howie, because of our normal cautious behavior.

Whatever you want to call it, I think this is exactly why I think God must have made a covenant with His people about the germs.  Surely He would want His people to enter the temple and not be preoccupied with germs.  Back in the “olden days” (eg: 1400 B.C.-ish) people had to be banished from Israelite-Tent-City after touching a dead animal/body (and probably being contagiously sick).  Fast-forward to the 21st century, we don’t quarantine people to an island while they are sick (although I think you can get stuck in a country or sealed-in room if you have Swine-Flu).  In fact, for the most part, infectiously sick people are free to roam the healthy world; which includes church.  Thus, I feel like we are supposed to be protected from harm of germs in God’s house.

Today I liked the greeters at church.  Why?  Because they were not the “I must shake your hand” greeters.  Rather they were the contemporary head-nod-welcome greeters – good people!  But in contrast there is a husband/wife team of greeters that insists on shaking my hand every Sunday.  No matter how I attempt to fidget with my Bible, purse and sunglasses in a show of how “unavailable” my hands are – they won’t let me get past them without a handshake.  It’s a greeters barricade!  And when I submit, it’s not even a simple handshake, it’s a grab my hand then put their other hand on top of my hand – kinda like a hand prison.  And then I don’t know what to do, because I realize they have shaken a million other hands, covered with who knows what, and I am contaminated.  Okay, a million is an exaggeration since my church isn’t that BIG – but they very well could have been in contact with a million various germs.

Should I get out my sani-spray and openly spray my hands, thus announcing to everyone in eye-shot, and God, that I do not believe in the anti-germ-covenant?  Maybe just a quick trip to the restroom for a 20 second wash (or I think your supposed to sing Happy Birthday while hand-washing …or was that brushing my teeth?)  In either case, I do neither because I want to believe God protects me with the unwritten covenant.  And my faith is not done being tested at the door; there are communion trays, offering baskets, communication cards, seat-back pens and if your church isn’t hip with worship songs on a screen – hymn books.  I don’t need to spell the problems with each of those items – you’ve already got the picture.  When it comes to communion, which my church does each Sunday, there is a reason I sit in row 4 or 5.   Actually this is a lie about why I sit where I sit, but let me tell you – it’s a huge benefit.

PS:  if Pastor Jeff ever comes to shake my hand, regardless of how many hands he already shook, I’m always ready to offer my hand – cause let’s be honest RHCC Hostage– we love our pastors giving us individual attention.

PSS (shameless plug): have you been to RHCC (Rolling Hills Christian Church)?  If not, get there fast!  You are not gonna want to miss the new series HOSTAGE.  You can sit with me in row 4 and stay germ free – I’ll even offer you hand sanitizer and gum because thats how much I love you!  Plus this is just an incredibly great church that loves Jesus and You; and the added bonus is that you won’t have to wear a visitor badge or anything else that will give away that your just checking things out.  Oh, and you can wear jeans and drink coffee (and tea, frappuccino-shakes, soda, Monster, Rockstar, etc…) IN church – that’s right – it’s just that great.

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17 thoughts on “God, Greeters and Germs

  1. Knowing you as I do, I am quite certain that you could have gone on and on about this subject and it must have been difficult to restrain yourself! Good job and I promise I won’t tell everybody how deep your phobia actually goes!

  2. Hmmmmm. How does this explain all of the kids that got so sick at the RHCC Jr. High camp? The protection doesn’t extend outside of the church property???? I hope we all just continue to shake hands and hug and live with the consequences. We’re building immunity, right????

    • Honestly I thought the covenant should extend to church functions as well (camp, great day of service, retreats, etc…) but alas, without the actual text, and from what I’ve seen, I have to conclude it’s for “church” only 😦

    • Amy – you’re right, another place were microbs crawl about due to the snotty-phlemy kids touching a glazed, but them putting it back down when they noticed there were spinkles. YAY for sprinkles – BOO for germs. Again, I don’t know where the doughnuts and coffee fall into the convenant. Perhapse the “honor-donation” acts as the sanitization blessing?

    • AHH YES! You have my condolences – that is just too…ewww. And then there is the ‘hand squeeze’ creepiness to seal the germs in!

  3. As a greeter in a church, I know exactly what you mean. With the new deadly viruses floating around I have been saying good morning and not putting my hand out to catch “the bug of the day”. 🙂

  4. Sherry-
    This is a great post! Good thing you don’t run to the bathroom to wash your hands because they would just shake hands with you again when you came back in 🙂
    And, don’t worry, the donut table is now under control…no snotty-phlemy kids touch multiple donuts when I run the table!

    You are awesome,

    • People like you are a GOD-SEND (for doughnut tables and other good things like trips to Peru – awesome!)

  5. Ah yes- the covenant. Sometimes it is just more convenient to believe- as in sharing the communion cup in an Anglican confession. (Doesn’t alcohol kill germs anyway?)

    In Africa I applied it to drinking the glass of water offered to arriving guests.
    Sometimes though, I felt that a ritual sip or two would suffice and I never had to deal with water I thought might have been dipped out of a guinea worm invested dam.

  6. In response to adisasullivan; Alcohol only kills bacteria (e.g. strep, staph, etc). Alcohol DOES NOT kill viruses (e.g. common cold, flu). A good hand washing is always first choice. The next time you are in the restroom of your local church, restaurant, store, sports facility, etc., take a couple of extra minutes and see how many people do not wash their hands after using the facilities. What you find may surprise you. Perhaps gross you out. If anything, you will probably have a better understanding as to why the cold and flu spread so rapidly.

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  7. I’ve just returned from six weeks in a West African village. Somehow worrying about picking up a few cold or flu bugs from a communion cup pales in significance. Pass the cup, rejoice in our salvation, build a little immunity and get on with real concerns.

  8. You have donuts at your church? I’ll be there. (And I’ll try not to imagine who boxed them up in the donut shop/kitchen.)

  9. How about the new bumping-elbows technique that public health officials are recommending to replace hand shaking. I think it’s a great idea. Ladies? Do you like to have your hand squeezed by a strong man being friendly? Or by another woman trying to out-do you with her imitation of a strong, business handshake? And men? how ’bout all the smelly hand lotion? Let’s just practice the elbow bump and smile.

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