Have you ever been on a phone call when you are interrupted by a curious family member? “Who are you talking to?” “Nana.” “Oh! Tell her I said hi!” Or perhaps you know someone who is on a trip visiting a congregation so you ask them to, “Say hi for me” to someone you know. These kind greetings take only a moment but always come from a place of love and affection. They let a person know that they are cared for and appreciated. Moreover, these few words tell that person they matter. Think about how John ended his third epistle, “Greet the friends by name” (3 Jn. 14).
The book of Romans ends with this same kind of greeting. Romans 16:1 -16 is a long list of people that Paul and his coworkers made sure to greet. Take a moment to read the passage. Besides the six groups of congregations and families, at least twenty -four individuals are mentioned by name. Paul and his friends ensure that all of these Christians in Rome are loved and appreciated. Notice some of the ways these Christian brothers and sisters are described: “fellow workers” (3, 9), “beloved” (5, 8, 9, 12), those who “labored” (6, 12), “approved in Christ” (10), “chosen in the Lord” (13), “brethren” (14), and “saints” (15). Paul even lovingly describes one unnamed woman as his mother (13)!
Why does John spend time writing to tell Gaius to greet each friend by name? Why does Paul spend a paragraph giving greetings to people he had only seen on occasion and some he may have never even met? The answer is easy and even provided for us in Romans 1:7 -15 for Paul, and 3 John 1 -4. Every saint is important. Every child of God is loved. Every brother and sister in Christ is necessary.
For me, it will take time to start greeting each of my new friends at Graeber Road by name, but I am thrilled to learn them all and do so! You matter. To you I say, “Hi! I look forward to getting to know you, my Graeber Road Family.”