Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

The first two albums I bought with my own money were Beatles records.

It was 1964, and I was swept up in the music that was being introduced to us Americans from across the pond. To this day, I can still sing all the words to all the songs because I surely played them enough through the years. One of the tunes was called, “P.S. I Love You.”

The lyrics went something like this: “Treasure these few words till we’re together, here’s all my love forever, P.S. I love you, you, you, you.”

Back in the days of Tin Pan Alley, there was another popular standard with the same title written by Johnny Mercer.

That one went something like this: "Dear, I thought I'd drop a line. The weather's cool, the folks are fine. I'm in bed each night at nine. P.S. I love you.”

Like many of you, I had to take Latin class in grade school. In a letter, as in any written communication, we learned P.S. stands for the Latin phrase “post scriptum,” which means “after writing.” It is meant to reflect the fact that the text marked with the initials was added after the other material had been written, often as an afterthought, as such, it typically occurs at the end of the letter, usually below the signature.

Many times, in a “love letter,” the juiciest parts are included in the P.S. part of the correspondence. For example, here is an example that I swiped from the real deal.

It reads, “My Darling…P.S. I wish I knew your thoughts better. I worry about messing this relationship up, saying the wrong thing, saying too much, not saying enough. I know, I need to relax.

"Relaxing. See you soon. I love you.”

It's a meaningful lesson for us not to skip a P.S., especially in a note written from someone we claim to love.

This past weekend, I entitled my message at The Lighthouse Church, “P.S. I Love You.” It was based on the closing words that the apostle, Paul, had for the Church in Thessalonica.

Paul encouraged the Body of Christ there to be an affectionate bunch. He invited them to, “Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.” No one is to be left out. Not even those that I refer to as the “ironing board” people.

They are people that when you attempt to hug them, get as stiff as two-by-fours. The Lord is encouraging us to provide many holy hugs, lots of spiritual smooches, and timely touches to show our love and devotion for one another. This is for everyone who identifies themselves as a follower of Jesus.

We are a family. The church is not an organization, as much as it is a living and breathing organism.

I grew up in a close-knit Italian family surrounded by my mom, who is a full Italian, and those aunts who all lived close to one another. Nobody needed a phone when they had an open window. The one aspect you'd better get used to is that you can’t go anywhere without kissing somebody hello, or goodbye.

It wasn’t an option. It was as common as the plastic on the furniture in the living room.

Some of my aunts were large women, so getting kissed by them was like deep-sea diving in uncharted waters. You held your breath and hoped for the best.

Still, it was never questioned. We were related, and that was just how it was done.

When you are a kisser and a hugger, and you encounter those who aren’t exactly open to such invasion of personal space, it can lead to interesting body language. Still, Paul shared this hope with everybody that through a physical gesture called a holy kiss, a sign of affection, others would feel loved.

God wants us to share our love demonstrably. He was hands-on in demonstrating His love for us. Touch is important, speaks volumes, and carries tenderness.

It carries affection. Many people live by themselves, so the church is their best opportunity to be hugged and kissed by fellow loved ones.

Now, let’s make it clear that it was supposed to be a holy kiss.

This was strategically placed there by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to teach Christians to reach out and demonstrate their love with tenderness, with no hint of an immoral agenda. We all know that such practices were abused then, and are abused now. However, that did not mean that just because it was done wrong that it should never be done again.

We live in a culture of extremism. We can’t be family in a sterile setting where nobody embraces and lays their hands upon one another. Even our dogs expect to be petted.

How can our children live without hugs and high fives? This was not some liturgy and wasn't a religious ceremony. The followers of Jesus made a loving community, and Paul said to show it.

Paul said that he wants us to demonstrate the love of Christ with each other. Hey, even sports teams are not afraid to show visible admiration to one another.

Why don’t we have holy handshakes after someone in the family of God knocks it out of the park for Jesus? I am praying that God’s church would become the place to be when you need a hand on your shoulder or a hug of remembrance. We can’t love one another and hold them at arm’s length.

God wants us to break down those barriers that rise among people and keep us apart. Greeting one another with a holy kiss is as spiritual as praying for them. Oh, that God would touch lonely hearts through the power of reaching out to one another in Jesus' name.

The Bible is not an instruction manual, as much as it is God’s love letter to each of us. I have a feeling that if we were to read a personal note from Heaven, there would be nothing holding the Lord back from fully expressing the true commitment that He has for everyone. He would tell it like it is, in a language you and I would fully understand.

Even after He might sign His name, I can imagine there would be a "P.S. I love you" attached to the sentence. Jesus went the distance to ensure that someday we would finish our race in His arms.

Why would we be different in demonstrating our love for Him and one another? A holy hug, holy kiss, and holy touch might be what the Savior ordered.

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor at The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.