Sharing of the Peace
So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
- Matthew 5:23-24
It happens every Sunday. Just before we distribute holy communion, we have the “sharing of the peace.” Pastor always says, “greet one another with the ‘peace of the Lord’” and then . . . OFF WE GO! Some kids may go running to give grandma a hug. Others may walk across the entire sanctuary to greet someone they haven’t met in a week. Others may have a different reaction. Some think to themselves, “here it comes the dreaded ‘sharing of the peace’ where I have to shake all these hands of people in the middle of flu season!” Others may choose to just stand in place, keeping their heads bowed while they wait for these uncomfortable 30 seconds to end.
Does this sound familiar to you in one way or another?
As with all things in worship, it can be easy for us to forget why we do what we do. Take a second and re-read the Bible passage above. Matthew 5 gives a reason WHY people went to greet others BEFORE going to the altar. What reason does Jesus give in Matthew 5?
Before going to the altar to receive the Lord’s Supper, we are to be reconciled with one another. This means old grudges with one another are to be verbally forgiven by each other. This happens during the sharing of the peace. If you have wronged someone in some way in word or deed, you are to go and ask for their forgiveness or give forgiveness before going to the Lord’s Supper. This happens during the sharing of the peace.
Being reconciled with one another does not mean you try and tally up every wrong committed against each other over the decades; that would be painfully impossible for any of us to do! As with the confession of sins though, it would be enough to confess those sins to each other which “we know and feel in our hearts.” Primarily, the “sharing of the peace” is to be a time of reconciliation with one another. If there is no reconciliation needed, then it is proper and appropriate to simply greet one another by saying “Peace be with you” or “the Peace of the Lord be with you” as we remind one another that we all fall under the cross of Christ’s mercy and come to the altar together as forgiven children of God. Truly, there is no greater peace for us to celebrate!
The peace of the Lord be with you always!
- Pastor Grimenstein