One day, one Sunday in particular, nothing will go wrong with the worship or preparations for worship, and everyone will agree that the music and everything else is wonderful… and, on that day I will know that I have died and gone to heaven!
We get on pretty well here, despite the fact that there are different traditions, needs and wants in worship… and I believe we have been truly blessed with tolerance during the last few weeks as we have combined for one service.
The fellowship after worship is particularly refreshing. It is wonderful to see the welcome given to new comers and the sharing within our parish family. We are blessed!
In saying this I am mindful of a concern that has been raised, relating to our enthusiastic fellowship… or, more particularly the times and places it is expressed.
In the midst of our worship, after we have heard from God’s word, prayed together, confessed our sins and received absolution, we share God’s Peace. Truth be told, the sharing of “The Peace”, at St Paul’s, is usually anything but peaceful! For many this is disturbing and breaks the flow of worship.
The “Peace” is not a time of fellowship! It is not the time to greet everyone, welcome people home, ask after someone’s health or share other news. These are conversations of fellowship and are best shared over morning tea.
“The Peace” was introduced as a symbolic act (after hearing from the Scriptures, examining our consciences and receiving absolution) signifying, to those around us, that we have accepted God’s forgiveness and are at peace in the “body of Christ”. We therefore greet those in our immediate vicinity, with a sign of God’s Peace – usually a simple handshake or (sometimes) the kiss of peace.
Sharing the “Peace” can be a moving experience – particularly when individuals or groups have been involved in conflict and are finally able to come together in “the Peace” – but – there is rarely a need to shake the hand of every member of the congregation.
Be enthusiastic, love one another, but please, can we let “the Peace”, be a time of peace?