Sermon Illustrations

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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