by M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

Passing the Peace
M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

Though many people have dedicated themselves to banish war, no one has ever objected to "peace" -- personal peace and peace among nations. Every aspect of life benefits from the tranquility of a life without trouble, sickness, sadness or frustration.

So it is that part of the worship among members of the Episcopal Church is the "passing of the peace" which takes place in most worship services and in times of the Eucharist.

What is meant by "Passing the Peace?" What does the Bible have to say about it? Why is it part of our Episcopal Worship Service in the Book of Common Prayer anyway? Why is it placed in the middle of the service, interrupting the seemingly orderly flow of worship? Is passing the peace just a time of greeting, or is it much more?

The Bible and Book of Common Prayer are excellent sources for answers to questions such as these. We use them as guides for living and guides for worship. Remember that what you find in your Prayer Book is grounded in Scripture. It is not just put there at the whim of some king, priest or author. There is a biblical reason. The scriptures I have researched may not be the ones specifically noted by the authors of the Prayer Book but I hope you will agree to the points as supplied by the scriptures I have chosen.

The time of Peace is not a time for passing on gossip or the concerns of the day. It is not the time to greet the newcomer. It is the time to pass on the blessing of peace to the other person, acknowledging their presence at worship. It is a time to offer the greeting "Peace." Even the greeting "peace" or the "passing of the peace," grows out of the Hebrew word shalom that means a whole constellation of things such as health, wholeness, well-being -- not merely the absence of hostilities. It is a positive term connoting prosperity of spirit.

When Jesus said, "I give you my peace" (John 14:27), what kind of peace did he mean? The Greek word used h ...

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