A friend recently told me that he had been walking in the park and saw a family acquaintance, whom he didn’t know particularly well. My friend was having a particularly good day and so addressed them with a cheery, ‘Hey! How are you doing? Lovely to see you!’ That was the full extent of the conversation. The acquaintance barely responded — offering a reluctant, awkward smile in exchange. Weeks later, my friend found out that the person had been contemplating taking their own life and as a direct result of that smile and greeting, had reconsidered. ‘I barely remember seeing them,’ my friend relayed to me, with tears in his eyes.

The smallest gestures can have the biggest impacts.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it feels like the world is creaking at the moment. We have lurched from a pandemic, to the threat of World War III, to a cost of living crisis. The Collins Dictionary word of the year is permacrisis’, an extended period of instability and insecurity. 

Against the backdrop of an always on’ world, in which we touch our phones an estimated 2,617 times a day, to respond to emails, instant messages, breaking news stories or humorous memes, there is no time to recover from the corporate and personal trauma we are all journeying through at hyper speed. 

"The smallest gestures can have the biggest impacts."

Life is tough at the moment. Most of us feel more fragile than at any other time in our lives.

We need Jesus and we need each other. Our neighbours and friends need the followers of the way, the truth and the life to be good news people in a bad news world. Our society needs us to be a non-anxious presence in the trouble and trauma.

Where do we begin? We do need deep friendship, connected communities and the life-changing gospel spoken and lived out. But relationships start somewhere.

And often with a smile.

Monday 21 November is World Hello Day. It’s a great excuse to celebrate the power of a simple greeting, the majority of which may only have a surface level impact. But some might be the beginning of a connection that lasts, some may lead to a 24-carat’ friendship. Some might save a life.

The most significant catalytic relationship in someone becoming a Christian is a friend. Jesus encouraged us to be the light of the world, to bring out the God-colours in our streets and communities (Matthew 5:14). Today, and in the darker days that we are living in, let your light shine bright. Let you smile broaden as you pass people in the street. Let the volume of your Hellos’ increase.

There’s a truth at the heart of the Christian faith that the secret of eternal life is not in what you know, but who you know. Great stories often begin with Once upon a time.’ Great friendships usually begin with Hello.’

"Great friendships usually begin with Hello"
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Why I'm celebrating International Friendship Day

Why I'm celebrating International Friendship Day

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