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Alonso Rodriguez, Peter and Paul exchanging the kiss of peace (16th century)

Members only?

When the church was under siege, the ritual of passing the peace was important to members who were meeting in secret and literally holding on to one another for dear life. Today it’s meant to serve an important function in worship.

But I have come to dread this part of the service. I have visited two small congregations several times lately. Both include the passing of the peace. The presiding clergyperson invites worshipers to greet one another with a handshake and the words “Peace be with you.” (Why don’t we say, “The peace of Christ be with you”? We don’t mean the generic 1960s peace that was communicated with a V sign.)


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