Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Passing the Peace --Encountering the World

I read a really touching account of passing the peace over at the Christian Century. A Lutheran pastor, Cheryl Walenta, wrote of passing the peace with someone who has less than perfect personal hygeine. Here is an excerpt.

When the time comes to share the peace, I shake hands with everyone I can find, but Smokey is nowhere to be seen. Whew. My clean hands are safe. As I make my way back to my seat, however, he appears and grabs my hand before I have the chance to check whether he left the sanctuary in order to wash his hands. Smokey begins his ritual: a secret handshake so secret that no one knows how to do it. Smokey leads the way: never explaining, only teaching with his actions. He grabs my hand and pulls it toward him, then pushes my hand away, and then he twists my arm up and down until we're each supposed to snap our fingers. I guess this might look really cool if I knew what we were doing, but I don't. I just look confused. On this particular day, Smokey lifts our grasped hands high above his head, and then twirls himself underneath.

I have to laugh.

(Read the whole article, here.)

Just one more example that highlights the idea that when we pass the peace, we are not simply greeting one another and welcoming them. When we pass the peace, we think that the peace of Christ is something that can actually be shared with others. Walenta receives Christ's peace in a place she expects it least, and where she has some anxiety about going. Jesus urges us to keep awake, and be ready... so at least we might recognize him as he shares his peace.

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