“The peace of the Lord be with you.”
“And also with you.”
I love this part of our worship experience in my Lutheran tradition. The pastor announces the sharing of the peace and then we, the congregants, spread throughout the sanctuary hugging, shaking hands and repeating these words to our fellow worshippers. These few moments in the service define the essence of the Christian fellowship.
When we accept and cherish the peace which is freely available from our Lord, it is expected that we shall also freely share that peace and love with our fellow-man. It is not a gift from the Father which we should hoard and hide within. No, we must unselfishly give as it has been given us.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.”
2nd Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
“Christian worship is filled with profound actions: heads bowed in prayer, arms raised in praise, standing in reverence during a Scripture reading, coming forward to give an offering. One ancient and significant gesture in worship is the passing of the peace. Passing the peace is a tradition rooted in Scripture that embodies our identity as peacemakers (Matt. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:20) and trains ours hearts, hands, and tongues in the ways of peace.”
Luke 24:36 “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.'”
“From the beginning Christians have exercised this practice. “Peace be with you” is a greeting Jesus himself used with his disciples (Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 26). The apostle Paul opened each of his letters with the words “Grace and peace be with you” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2).”
Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“The gesture is simple, but the meaning is profound. When we extend our hand to another, we identify with Jesus, who extended his life to the point of death to make peace with humanity (Col. 1:20-21). What’s more, in the midst of divisions we symbolize our unity through handshakes and hugs (Eph. 2:14-21). Likewise, when we regularly pass the peace we practice God’s call to make every effort to maintain the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).”