Every Sunday, Episcopal Services have a mid-point. It's a place in the service, right after we've prayed where we are invited to share the peace. That sharing of the peace is a sacramental moment of reconciliation. We've been reconciled to God through prayer and confession; now we are invited to extend that restoration with each other. That's why we say, "Peace be with you." We wish each other the wholesome, healing life that peace with God and Neighbor offers.
But this moment of sharing the "Peace" can bring anxiety, discomfort and even harm when it's not done thoughtfully. Some of our sisters and brothers feel intense anxiety when having to interact with others verbally, and physically - even a handshake might be difficult. Some people who sit in our pews each Sunday have experienced trauma - possibly sexual trauma. At some point, they experienced uninvited interaction at the most intimate level - perhaps from a stranger, but often not. Perhaps most importantly, forcing children to hug us can be harmful. We need to be treating the children in our congregation with special care so that they are not being taught to receive unwanted touch from adults. Respecting children's body language is important.
By practicing Rock-Peace-Together, we are opening ourselves to true reconciliation and peace. We will be able to allow everyone to trust St. Paul's as a safe and welcoming place of love and recognition. That's Gospel hope!