Passing the Peace

After my cancer diagnosis, I wanted to find a Church home. Since moving back to my husband’s hometown I hadn’t found a place that felt welcoming, comforting and peaceful. I decided since we had just moved to a new area of town that I would visit a new church each week until I found one that met the above criteria.

I started with the closest, and wonder of wonders! I didn’t have to look any further. I started reading the bulletin and finding the activities that I found interesting and just started showing up. One of these was the Tuesday morning women’s Bible study. Fast forward a year and it was my turn to share the devotion. I wondered what to write, then I worried that what I was coming up with was too personal to share. I decided to go for it anyway. This is what I shared:

In the King James version of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 16:20 says “All the brethren greet you, greet us one another with an holy kiss.” Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t really like to be touched. I find the passing of the peace particularly harrowing because some people blatantly ignore my outstretched hand. I remember leaving church one morning in tears because I felt rebuffed.

I also tried to find corroboration for this dislike and found an excerpt in a book. It was talking about African Spirituality. It said for centuries African Bushmen have greeted each other in this way – when one becomes awaare of his brother or sister coming out of the bush, he exclaims ‘I see you!’ and then the one approaching rejoices, ‘I am here!’ This timeless bearing witness is both simple and profound. The author points out that it’s wonderful to have who we are and where we’ve been be seen. When I read that, I of course was like, now that’s a way to greet each other! that sounds wonderful.

I was telling my friends group this during one of our weekly bible studies… I stated that I hate when it is time for that part of the service, and shared that sometimes when I was growing up, I would show up to church late so that I would get there after the passing of the peace. So anyway, I continued to my friends, where in the Bible does it say that you have to pass the peace? Seems to me it’s just another ritual.

My friend Alicia jumped on that and she was like “YES!, it says (in the Bible) we should greet each other with a kiss. I screeched With a kiss?! oh my that’s even worse than shaking hands! She couldn’t remember exactly where it says this so later on I did a google search for reference verses. There are a few places that give us instructions. In addition to Corinthians, First Peter Chapter 5 verse 14 says “Greet one another with a kiss of love, peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

My friends and I decided the action item for me would be to pray about it. I’ve been working on this hangup, and it seems that there’s appearing more opportunities to practice. Fast forward to two weeks ago. During the 11 O’clock service, the Pastor said we were to introduce ourselves to the people next to us whether we knew them or not, and then to tell them what’s our favorite desert.

Sounds good in principal right? Of course to do that you have shake hands! Cringe!! Once that was over I thought Phew, I got through that; not knowing that again last Sunday there would be a repeat of that exercise. This time we were supposed to introduce ourselves again and tell them what we did during the thunderstorm two days earlier ( heart palpitations)…. It’s a work in progress people.

Pray with me ladies. Dear Lord, help us to know that when we reach out our hand to others we are reminded of our interconnectedness, and are renewed. Let me remember that when I stop struggling I am able to float. Romans 12:10 says “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. In the passing of the peace, we practice what we preach.


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