I went to a different church this morning.
Friends recommended a family of churches spread across Manhattan; I looked up their massive and multi-layered website and discovered a service that fit my slightly crazy Sunday schedule.
It was a bit of a switch-up from what I’ve been leaning towards: while I like small, traditional Anglican worship, this was a packed amphitheatre with a conservative Presbyterian service. Don’t get me wrong: I like the Presbyterians. It’s just that they do things a little differently.
[It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.]
I won’t harp on about differences; goodness knows I’ve already spilled my few cents about agreeing and disagreeing with other Christians. But I was thrown for a total loop when we got to my favourite part of the service.
We’re instructed, after confessing our shortfallings with God and each other, to share God’s peace with our neighbours.
We turn and repeat a familiar litany:
“May the peace of the Lord be always with you.”
“And also with you.”
And so the minister instructed us to take a moment to pass God’s peace amongst ourselves, and I turned to my neighbour: “may the peace of the Lord be with you.”
To which he replied, “Hi, my name is Chu. Welcome!”
I was slightly stunned. I turned to the woman behind me: “Hi! My name is Anne!”
And on it went: “My name is Louise, welcome!”
“Good morning! I’m John.”
And I thought: I don’t want your name. I want your peace.
Save your name for coffee hour, for weak church juice and stale cookies. Now is the time for passing God’s peace amongst ourselves.
I need it; won’t you please bless me with it?