Canon Dr David Stone
Good morning. Coming from Australia himself, a former colleague of mine was always very keen on ANZAC day, which I expect he, along with many others, will have been celebrating yesterday. But I’m not quite sure how he would react to today, which is, apparently, intended to be set aside as ‘Hug an Australian Day’. Exactly why Australians have been singled out for this treatment isn’t made clear. For it turns out that, actually, all of us could benefit from the occasional hug. Research in the United States claims to show that when people hug the brain releases oxytocin, which encourages social bonding, increases the willingness to trust and reduces fear. Hugs are also good for the heart. Another study demonstrated that huggers have a lower blood pressure and a healthier resting heart rate in comparison with non-huggers.
It was a stormy night with lightning flashing across the sky and thunder booming. A little girl scurried to the living room and threw herself into her mother’s arms with the words, “I’m afraid.” Her mother quietened the child as she put her back to bed saying, “Remember, God loves you and he will keep you safe.” But as soon as the mother returned to her chair, the child appeared again, saying “I’m still afraid.” The mother took the child back to her room, telling her, “You must stay in bed, you are perfectly safe, I told you that God loves you and he will take care of you.” The little girl replied, “I know God loves me but I need someone with skin on.”
God of compassion, thank you for sharing with us the privilege of being able to offer love and care to others. Help us to be those ‘with skin on’ to those who need you today. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.