One of the most basic traditions of holy worship practiced by Christians down through the ages is called "the passing of the peace." This tradition is rooted in the several passages in the New Testament that refer to giving one another a "holy kiss."

I remember the first time I read those texts and asked the adults of my church why we didn't practice these customs the answer I got was unsatisfactory. I was puzzled at how insistent we were about interpreting the Bible literally but we tended to pick those things out of the Bible that we liked and left the rest. Such was the case here.

Then I discovered the "passing of the peace." This practice usually precedes coming to the Lord's Table. Part of the reason for this is so that we will all come having sought reconciliation with each other. We will also have a proper way to greet each other in the context of congregational worship.

The greeting is simple:

Leader: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Please share the peace with one another.

My wife always brings along the hand sanitizer to kill the germs but we gladly shake hands all around and happily pass the peace. I have found the practice to be one that fills my heart with joy.

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  1. shaggy February 23, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Having grown up in Roman Catholicism, then spending my young adult years in a Reformed Baptist context I had forgotten about this. Until I went to mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago while in town for Christmas. It has been maybe 15 years since I attended a mass. Have been thinking on this ever since, even last night while entering my slumber. It us just so meaningful to offer the gift of peace freely to each other while in worship. As opposed to the rather idle, weak,generic greeting we offer every Sunday as directed by the leader. I want to receive and offer the peace of God, in addition to worship. I think the church chat is best left for the lobby.

  2. Susanne Barrett February 24, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I would love to see this as a part of my evangelical church — such a wonderful idea. A “meet and greet” with peace at the root.

  3. Richard February 25, 2009 at 10:11 am

    What book and chapter is the “passing of the peace” found in the bible? I am very interested to know because until you mentioned something I thought it was a tradition made up by the catholic church. I grew up in this tradition and never knew the origin of it.
    Now, I attend a non-denominational bible-teaching church. I would like to incorporate this in our fellowship because it is a way to have the peace of Jesus flow in our fellowship.
    By the way, what made you think about this subject at this time?
    Thanks, Rich.

  4. John Armstrong February 26, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    The basis for “passing the peace,” as my article suggests, is the “holy kiss” in the ancient church and in Holy Scripture several times. I thought about this simply because I am involved in this often and then in places where a “greeting” is given but is more secular in approach than sacred. I simply think this practice would help many churches recover Christ-centered and biblical tradition in an appropriate way.

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