Practicing Peace (May 11, 2012)

…Opening To…

The purpose of the worship of God is to help us see our dependence on God and the vast resources that God wants to lavish on our lives. (Ian S. Markham)

…Listening In…

“I have spoken these things to you while I am with you. The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:25-27; context)

…Filling Up…

Our eighth moment in the typical worship service is something that wasn’t part of a typical worship service until a little more than thirty years ago. Well, let me rephrase – the passing of the peace of the Lord is one of the oldest traditions in the worship of the Christian church, dating back to the “kiss of peace” in the earliest days of Christianity. Then at some time over the centuries, it fell out of practice, only to be recovered in the Book of Common Prayer that we use now in the Episcopal Church. (Other denominations pass the Peace, as well.)

The Peace is the fulcrum of the service, the pivot point between the liturgy of the Word (everything we’ve been discussing up until now) and the liturgy of the Table (everything we will discuss following this). We have praised God, listened to scripture and interpretation, said what we believe, prayed, and confessed our sins. Soon we will partake of Holy Communion. But first, we pause to practice greeting one another with the peace of God.

Peace is not just the absence of conflict. In a greater sense, peace is the abiding presence of God. When we greet one another with the peace of God, we express our desire that the other may forever be held in the palm of God’s hand, may forever abide in God’s presence. During our worship, we practice this greeting in the safe space of the church among those with whom we feel comfortable. It becomes easy to bring God’s peace to our fellow churchgoers.

But the challenge is taking the peace of God out into the world where it is sorely needed. Just imagine how different we could make the world if we brought with us into every handshake and high five and wave and embrace, the peace, which passes all understanding. God’s abiding presence exists with or without our awareness of it, but when we move through our lives wrapped in the peace of God, we will affect everyone we encounter for the better.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the source of all peace; help me to dwell in the ocean of that peace whenever my heart is troubled so that I may know that I am in your presence and have nothing to fear. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, glad to have the opportunity to worship you freely and to bring my weekend worship into my weekday life.

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