Thursday, April 19, 2007

sharing the peace

Lately I've been thinking about "sharing the peace." This is a relatively new concept in Lutheran churches -- people have only been "sharing the peace" since about 1978. Usually it occurs after the prayers of the church, when the Pastor announces, "The peace of Christ be with you always," and the people reply, "And also with you." And then people turn and SHAKE HANDS with each other, and say "Peace" or something on that order. Therein lies the controversy. Some feel that it is not quite a serious enough gesture for a church service -- here we are concentrating on GOD, and all of a sudden we are shaking hands and saying, "Hello."

The idea comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 20. After the resurrection, the disciples are huddled together in a locked room, when Jesus comes through the door and greets them: "Peace be with you." Then he tells them, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Or, more colloquially, "Get your behinds out of this room and share my peace." "Peace be with you," is a greeting (think Hebrew, "Shalom") but it's not exactly like saying, "Have a nice day."

When we overcome our fear or our shyness or whatever it is to turn to our neighbor and say, "Christ's peace be with you," we are practicing for a life of getting our behinds out of our churches and our houses (anywhere we hide) and sharing Christ's peace with the world. It's not about standing on the corner passing out tracts, which would scare my dog. But it is about caring about the world and our neighbor enough to work for the world and our neighbor's good. So -- crusade against pornography. Work for the good of your neighborhood public school. Volunteer at the crisis nursery. Share Christ's peace.

Sorry about the sermon. Occupational hazard. Have a nice day -- oh, I mean, "Peace."

No comments: