Richard Mouw posts some thoughtful reflections on a theology of hugging. One story along this line: when I became the interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church in June 2005, one of our elders, John Hancock, asked if there was anything he could do for me. I said, "Yes, there is. Every Sunday you are here, if you were to give me one of your big hugs, it would help me immensely." And for nearly 20 months, every Sunday, Hancock would give me a hug.
I have to say--it was such an encouragement. Even when the voices in my head and my heart told me that I was worthless, foolish, pointless, John's hug was God's grace coming to me saying, "Not only are you not worthless, you are loved by God and by God's people." Those hugs sustained me in a sacramental sort of way--by being means of grace to my often doubting soul.