"If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." - Matthew 5: 23-24

Did you ever wonder why we pass the peace in our worship service? It is not merely a fellowship time or a time for greeting your neighbor. It is actually a response to Jesus' words from Matthew 5.

A major part of our worship service is reconciliation. Thus, we begin our worship with the service of confession and absolution, so that we can be reconciled to God. Remembering that our sin separates us from God, we confess our sin with the hope of being reconciled, or brought back together with our Heavenly Father. Then, when we receive the absolution, or forgiveness, we are reconciled with God. The sin that separates us from God has been removed by the absolution.

In the same manner, sin separates us from our neighbors. Whether it is our sin against our neighbor, or our neighbor's sin against us; sin puts up a wall between us. In order to remove that wall, we must go to each other with forgiveness. We must offer God's peace to each other, so reconciliation can happen. In deed, Jesus said, "Be reconciled first", even before you give your offering and even before you come to the altar for Holy Communion. Some translations put it this way, "Make peace with your brother first". Thus, in our worship service we hear the word and then we confess our faith (in the words of the Apostles' Creed), the next thing we do is share God's peace with each other, so we can be reconciled to each other.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples on Easter, He said to them, "Peace be with you". Then He said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Jesus sends us to bring the peace of God to each other. The next time we share the peace, remember it is a part of our worship and a response to Jesus wish that we be reconciled to our neighbors first.

Pastor Ron

(Note - At our last council meeting a letter concerning the "Passing of the Peace" was brought to the attention of the council. Some feel that this practice is disruptive to the worship service and should be dis-continued. After discussion, the council has decided to bring it up at the next annual meeting and let the majority make the final decision. We could move the "Passing of the Peace" to a different part of the service (after the announcements, for example), or we could dis-continue the practice, or we could leave it as it is. It's really up to you.)