Tuesday, January 22, 2013


When I was an undergraduate studying Classical Greek, one of the first Greek words I learned from Professor Eve Adler was chaire! It's the common greeting in Attic Greek, the "hello, there!" of the ancient Greek world.*

We can translate it as "Hail!" or "Hello!" but it literally means "Rejoice!"

There are a lot of ways to greet someone.  You can announce your own presence, or acknowledge the presence of others; you can offer a command, or express a wish; you can arrive with a blessing. 

I like the idea of greeting someone by wishing them joy.  Wherever we're going, it's good to arrive with a desire to see others rejoice, with a blessing on our lips.


This Sunday the Gospel reading in the Revised Common Lectionary was the story of the Wedding in Cana.

The story goes like this: Jesus is invited to a wedding.  The wedding guests drink all the wine, and it looks like the party might be over.  Jesus' mother, Mary, tells him "They have no more wine."  Jesus makes lots more wine.  And it's good wine.  The party goes on.

And people wonder why I'm a theist.  This is a good God.

Because whatever else is going on in this story, this is a God that arrives with a desire to see people rejoice.

It's easy to forget that.

Miroslav Volf posted something on his Facebook page this week that reminded me that in some ancient cultures, wedding parties lasted a whole week.  I wonder, how long had these people in Cana been drinking?

And then I think: would I even know how to throw a party that lasted for a whole week?  What would such a party be like?  I admit I don't know.  But I like the idea of trying.

How would that change the way we saw the world?  What if the aim of life was not prosperity but mutual enjoyment and living towards times of rejoicing?  What if we made it our purpose to prayerfully complain, on behalf of others, "They have no more wine!"

So to you reading this, I have one word, a blessing on my lips for you: Chaire!  Rejoice!  And may you find joy that endures throughout your week.


 * The Greek word is spelled χαῖρε, dual χαίρετον, plural χαίρετε.  I've transliterated it here on the assumption that most of my readers don't know the Greek alphabet.  The verb χαίρω, of which these words are several forms, means "rejoice."

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