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Brothers in arms

There are many things to take into consideration when offering a handshake. The angle of engagement, the firmness of the grip, the number of fingers to commit, the exact place to press the thumb on the back of the other person’s hand, the number of vertical movements to perform, the length of the hold, the decision as to whether to use a second hand to express more warmth, and finally the distance from the body at which to launch the great meeting of hands.

I wonder if the new manoeuvre that has been decreed as its replacement in this covid season will have as many factors to consider. Like, how much force to apply to the elbow collision, and, at what angle to hold the elbow. For example, will holding the elbow at a right-angle mean something different from one held in the acute or obtuse position? And is there an optimal distance from the body at which to launch the engagement?

I dare say those things were farthest from the minds of Peter, James and John when they offered to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship. The technique was secondary. At the forefront stood the communion of the hearts of men who were committed to the gospel, and to its proclamation to the world. And whether it was a firm handshake or an olecranonial-kiss, these men knew they shared a common calling, and would forever be brother in arms.

DM 27th July 2020


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