Stuff Episcopalians Like #3- Passing the Peace

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Stuff Episcopalians Like #3- Having Opinions on the Best Way to Pass the Peace

Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the name of the Lord. – Book of Common Prayer

What follows is as varied as Episcopalians themselves. (that’s very varied, in case you weren’t familiar) Some of the more proper churches take at most 20 seconds to shake hands with only those within one step and an arms reach. Some churches use this as an intermission-type break for everyone to hug everyone and catch up on their weeks. Most churches fall somewhere in between. 

I’ve seen shirts made that said “Are you a hugger or a shaker?” referring to this time in the service.  Some people find hugging a little invasive to their personal space, but, for the record, hugging is more sanitary than shaking hands. If you only knew half the things people do with their hands. (Don’t think about that too much)  If you’re looking for a compromise, might I recommend a fist bump, including a good explosion, a la Michael Scott. Or start buying Purell in bulk. 

When I lived in South Africa and attended church at the Anglican Cathedral, there was a 90-year-old nun who would always use the peace to kiss people square on the lips. She was like a pious version of Richard Dawson, the 70’s host of Family Feud that kissed every single female contestant. As endearing as it was, I think this particular nun was the only person on the planet that could get away with it. In other words, if you see me on Sunday morning, please don’t pucker up. 

But no matter what you do, the sentiment is still the same: Peace be with you. A reminder that by just reaching out your hand, you can meet good company on the road of faith.

I feel lucky that I live in an era where I can look at this and say, “Ewwwe!”
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