In the early seventies, large billboards appeared along Winnipeg streets. The billboards had two words, “Touch Me”.
What compelling and intriguing signs – intriguing because touch is important to the human body, to the newborn infant, to the grieving individual, to the loved one; we all yearn to be touched.
Manitoba Telephone Systems played on that human need when introducing the new touch-tone telephones.
Many years ago, we took a vacation to the Maritimes.
Early one morning on a busy freeway, having miscalculated our fuel amount, we ran out. Stranded on highway edge, with three small children restless in the back seat, I hoped for help.
Off in an adjacent field a farmer worked his field. I told my story.
He unhitched his implement, drove to the farmyard, returned with fuel only to discover it could not be emptied into the car without the aid of a funnel. A return trip to the farm yard for a funnel and we were successful.
I handed him money for fuel and services. He refused saying, “You help someone in trouble along the way.” Pay it forward we say now. He touched me.
How many times I remember that man whenever I have been of assistance to someone else. “I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, will by no means lose his reward.” Mark 9:41
The story in the Bible of the woman ill for years with a menstrual disorder reached out in hope to Jesus, saying, “If I could just touch him.” After doing so, it’s Jesus who turns to say, “Who touched me? This was not to condemn but to recognize, to encourage, and to uplift.
The touch of God is the touch of love.
Last winter, in the city of Winnipeg, we heard of a church that pooled a sum of money.
On those bitterly cold minus 30 degree winter nights they were able to provide blankets, socks, toques, food, and yes, even hotel rooms for a night to those who were homeless. Such a touch of love!
The writer of the first Epistle of John reminds us, “Whoever loves God must also love his brother and sister.”1John 4:21
Our families, our communities, our world cries out hoping to be touched.
“Touch me,” is the plea written upon desperate faces.
But we live in a complex and sometimes devious and sensitive society. Who do we touch? How do we touch?
It is interesting to note that in the story of the woman reaching out to touch Jesus, his response broke societal and religious rules. This woman deemed unclean because of her blood issue according to Jewish law, was not to be touched and certainly not by a man.
Is this a call for boldness, and creativity in our touch?
As a high school counsellor, one Friday morning I received a phone call. It was a mother concerned about Dave. Dave was not her son, nor relative, nor son of a friend. He was a young person she had gotten to know and to whom she had become somewhat of a surrogate mother.
Dave’s girlfriend had called her that Friday morning saying she called Dave but he wouldn’t get out of bed. Would she (my caller) phone him and encourage him to school.
This mother was concerned about Dave’s depression.
She explained Dave’s home life was lacking in any kind of parental support – the parents were separated – and he had been anxious of late about a good friend who was suicidal.
My caller also provided emotional support to Dave’s girlfriend. She didn’t have to. Maybe, she suggested to me, “I am stepping over the line.”
At that moment I wished there were more mothers like her willing to step over the line; to reach out to touch those hurting young people. It takes courage, grace and discretion to provide that healing, loving touch.
Recall the beautiful story Jesus told of the King returning to find those faithful servants who had reached out to touch, to help and to heal. The King’s comment was, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matt. 25:40.
We have the power to touch because we have felt God’s touch.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us…” We have the means to answer hopes call; “For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not parish.” Psalm 9:18
Who can I touch today?