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Eucharist: Peace - A Common Peace

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12.18

At the intersection between what is traditionally called ‘The Liturgy (or Proclamation) of the Word’ and ‘The Liturgy of The Sacrament (aka The Celebration of The Eucharist)’ comes a brief but important ritual action which the whole church is invited to join in with - it is called the ‘passing of the peace’ or ‘the sharing of the peace’ and stretches back via the ancient tradition of ‘the kiss of peace’ as a sign of reconciliation and greeting to the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5:  ”So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

Of course, it’s a ritual act, as part of a wider ritual - the sharing of peace is a simple handshake, or hug that expresses a desire to be at peace with one another.  The gift we offer at the Altar is ourselves - and particularly ourselves at peace, with God, within ourselves, and with one another.  It’s part of a commitment to peace, to being people of peace, to working for peace through our praying, our giving, our loving, our acting.

Its place at the point where Word and Sacrament meet reminds us that this ritual sharing of peace is a place of grace - inspired by our scriptures, and by the living Word of Christ, the Spirit of God and leading us towards that glimpse of God’s Grace in our communion.  A grace that is to be carried beyond ourselves as we heed our calling to be people of peace.

Peace

When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs? 
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite 
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but 
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it? 

O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu 
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite, 
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit. 

Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

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