The story has been told of a church in the Pacific Northwest, which participates in the
"sharing of the peace" during worship. When they share the peace, they are exuberant
and enthusiastic. They leave their pews to embrace one another. Newcomers are warmly
welcomed with a kind word, a handshake, or a hug.
"Nobody in this church thought much about the weekly
ritual of passing the peace until the pastor received a
letter from a man who had recently joined the congregation.
This man was a promising young lawyer from a prestigious
downtown law firm. He drafted a brief but pointed letter
on his firm’s letterhead. "I am writing to complain about
the congregational ritual known as ’passing the peace,’"
he wrote. "I disagree with it, both personally and
professionally, and I am prepared to take legal action to
cause this practice to cease."
When the pastor phoned to talk with the lawyer about the
letter, he asked why the man was so disturbed. The lawyer
said, "The passing of the peace is an invasion of my privacy."
The pastor’s response to the lawyer was right on target.
He said, "Like it or not, when you joined the church you gave
up some of your privacy, for we believe in a risen Lord who
will never leave us alone." Then he added, "You never know
when Jesus Christ will intrude on us with a word of peace."
(William G. Carter, Water Won’t Quench the Fire, CSS Publishing Company.)
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