Peace be with you.
Many styles of worship services include a type of greeting and hospitality called “passing (of) the peace.” This practice is much more meaningful and grounded that I can give credit to here. For ease of explanation (although admittedly over-simplified) passing of the peace is when you turn around and greet your neighbor. In some traditions, you say, “Peace be with you,” and you’re answered, “And also with you.”
Oh, that it were that simple.
I wish I could hug my friend whose marriage is strained, say, “Peace be with you,” and she depart at peace in her mind, heart, home, and family.
Or that I could send off my kids to school with a “Peace be with you,” and they enjoy peaceful tests, peaceful lunches, peaceful recesses, and peaceful learning.
I wish passing the peace around a family Christmas dinner were as easy as passing the rolls. I’d be gifting breadbaskets to many of my colleagues as they head off to family meals in the coming days!
I truly want peace to be with my friends and family. I want it within me. I want peace to be with you.
And, I believe Jesus wants peace to be with you and me and us. Several times in the Bible, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” They’re all worth looking up, but I’m especially interested in this wording–Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21, NIV)
The Father sent Jesus to earth. That’s what Christmas is all about! Jesus was sent, in part, to bring peace.
But it doesn’t end there. In this verse, Jesus extends the mission for a longer time period, to a larger population. Jesus includes us in His assignment, in the work he came here to do. As God the Father sent Jesus to this world to bring peace, Jesus sends us into this world to bring peace.
At Christmas, we celebrate that Jesus came to earth. That is worthy of praise and honor!
But it’s only the beginning.
On one day we celebrate one person, the Prince of Peace. But every other day of the year, we are to pass the peace, His peace, to others in our world. We are sent, by Jesus himself, to be ambassadors of peace.
May peace be with you.
Questions for Reflection:
- What experience have you had, or not, with “passing of the peace” practices in worship services? If you’ve had some experiences, then were they positive or negative? Meaningful or confusing? Peaceful or awkward?
- Where has Jesus sent you to pass peace? Your workplace? Your immediate family? Extended family? Your school?
- To whom has Jesus sent you to pass peace? A neighbor? Friend? Relative? People group?