passing the peace

Louisvillians are a friendly bunch. I can’t go for a morning walk without neighbors stopping to chat. Runners and cyclists puff a cheery good morning as they pass. As I call out good morning over and over, I am reminded of our Anglican tradition (shared by many others): the passing of the peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with you begs the reply, and also with you.

As a confirmed introvert who could easily sneak in and out of services on Sunday, I was never a fan of the peace. I am especially loathe of services where regulars circulate to shake hands with everyone they can, or those where folks stop to chat about where to go for coffee after church.

However, once I understood why we pass the peace, I became a convert.

Before coming before the communion rail, we kneel to pass the peace, in a way, with God. We confess and are reminded that we remain forgiven. Peace, God, we pray. And God replies, and also with you.

Then we turn to those next to us in the pews. We offer the words of peace, and we are reconciled to our neighbor as well. And we come back the next week and do it all over again, because although the work of reconciliation and grace may be done once for all, we need to be reminded over and over again.

And so I pass through the neighborhood each morning – up the Lauderdale hill, turning on Casselberry to avoid the barking dog, past the home with chickens and skirting the edge of Cherokee Park – and I call good morning to all I pass.

But what I really mean is peace. Peace be with you and with your loved ones. The peace of God be always with you.

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One Response to passing the peace

  1. ginger says:

    I read a book by Charles Williams (Descent into Hell, I think) that added great meaning to my experience of passing the peace in church. Here is what someone wrote about Williams’ book: “Descent Into Hell” showcases two pillars of Williams’ thought: Co-inherence and Substitutionary Love. To simplify, these terms respectively mean (or suggest) that humanity is fundamentally, mysteriously linked and that it is possible to literally bear the greatest burdens of another.

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