“Welcome my beloved, you belong here and with you I am well pleased.”
We pass the peace in Church. We pass the peace after hearing the Word of God as read in the scriptures. We pass the peace after we make the ancient affirmations of faith found in the Nicene Creed. We pass the peace after we have prayed for forgiveness and received absolution. We pass the peace before we come to the altar to receive the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ.
We are diverse. We come from rich and poor families. We come as male and female. We come as gay and straight. We come as democrats and republicans. We come from the US and from abroad. We carry the heavy weight of our past with us and the light dreams of the infinite potential in our hearts. We come from innumerable different circumstances and definitions and we come together and pass the peace.
With each hand shaken and with each positive namaste-like nod exchanged, the universe declares, “Welcome my beloved, you belong here and with you I am well pleased.”
The Word of God, read and preached, causes us to open our eyes to a larger reality. In this reality we see we are all one and that we all belong to each other. The confession makes explicit how each of us obstructs this larger vision of communion. The peace declares our intention to live lives of interdependence and in compassionate community. Finally the Eucharist brings us to that divine feast were we are nourished as forgiven and restored children of the living God.
As we confront the panic of a global pandemic, let us remember that we are followers of the one who reached out to untouchables and called on his disciples to become agents of healing.
In church and out of church, let us pass the peace!