Passing the Peace
In the Lutheran church I grew up in, every Sunday we’d “pass the peace” by greeting each other and shaking hands. I always wondered about the phrase “passing the peace” because it just seemed to me that we were just saying, “good morning” or “good to see you.”
In fact, it didn’t seem very peaceful.
Everyone was talking, moving around within their pew, reaching across pews, etc. As a kid, it was the perfect time to turn around and see who was singing behind you...especially if they were off-key (I know, because often people were looking at me! LOL).
But in this time of Coronavirus and anxiety, worry, and fear, I see how we -- as God’s people, as the church -- are called to pass the peace.
For example, in John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
When all the world is frantic and anxious, we, as believers, need to turn to God. What should we pray for?
Paul, in Phillipians 4:6-7 calls to us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This doesn’t mean “Just stick your head in the sand and pretend bad things don’t happen or don’t exist.” Or just manifest happiness. Just be happy at all times. That’s ridiculous. No one is happy about the circumstances our world finds itself in.
It also doesn’t mean “Just pray. Don’t do anything else. Just pray.”
Clearly if you read the whole of God’s word you will see that we are called to pray and pray diligently. But God also calls us to help our neighbors. To be responsible for ourselves and to help others. Check on your neighbors. If they need help, help them. Share your toilet paper. If you are going to the grocery store, check with your neighbors and see if they need anything. Remember Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep. This is our time to feed God’s sheep and show his love to others.
Regardless of today’s circumstances, lean into God. Focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. (Philippians 4:8) Take captive thoughts of worry or anxiety by praying to God and choosing to think about the good. There is always good.
God is still in control. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
We can, and should, pass his peace.