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Passing the Peace

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Dear Friends in Christ,


Why do we “pass the peace” when we worship God together? The Eucharist, our communion service, always includes this exchange of the peace of Jesus Christ at the end of the Liturgy of the Word and before the Liturgy of the Table. We say to each other “the peace of the Lord be with you” and respond “and also with you.” Why do we do this?


The shape of the service starts with preparing to worship, glorifying God, and reading passages of scripture. We hear a sermon based on one or more of those passages, then we respond to the sermon by reciting the creed, and praying together. In the Prayers of the People, we pray for the church, the nation and those in authority, the world and the local community, those suffering or in need, and those who have died. Finally, at the end of our prayers, we repent and confess our sins together and receive God’s absolution.

There is a reason that the prayers are structured this way for the Eucharist. We are preparing ourselves to share communion with Christ and his church, and before we come to the table, as Jesus taught us, we need to make peace with God and peace with each other (and peace with ourselves). As Bishop Wright often says in this moment “now that we have peace with God, peace with ourselves and peace with our neighbor and even enemy is possible.” Jesus calls us to reconciliation with God and with each other in him. The confession is a crucial part of this reconciliation, so that we might celebrate God’s grace in us together at communion.


So, having heard about God’s peace, and received God’s peace, we then share that peace of Jesus with each other. And reconciled with God and each other, we then come to our Lord’s table rejoicing together! Consider this next Sunday as you share the peace of the Lord with each other. Consider this during the week as God gives you opportunities to repent, confess and reconcile with God and with others. More and more, the peace of Christ will rule in your hearts—the peace to which we are called in one body. And we will be thankful!

Yours in Christ,

-Tom

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