We believe in the presence of God, not just in heaven but in our actual lives, in our relationships, in the now, in the moments. In those moments, there is community.
The editor went on to quote an author who spoke about something called "the passing of the peace" brought into daily life. I didn't know what "the passing of the peace" meant in liturgical terms, so at first I was just going to ignore that part, but then I buckled down and took the whole 20 seconds to Google my way to this Reformed church perspective:
From the beginning Christians have exercised this practice. 'Peace be with you' is a greeting Jesus himself used with his disciples (Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 26). The apostle Paul opened each of his letters with the words 'Grace and peace be with you' (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2).
"Today in many congregations we may pass the peace during a mutual greeting, after words of assurance, prior to celebrating the Lord’s Supper, or at the conclusion of a worship service. At these times we leave the comfort of our seat, turn to our neighbors, grasp their hands, and speak the words, 'The peace of the Lord be with you' and receive the words in turn, 'And also with you.'" (Paul Ryan)
With that bit of context, then, I went back and re-read the quote about "the passing of the peace" in daily interactions:
The passing of the peace finds its way into our day mostly in small, unseen moments as we live together, seeking to love those people who are the constants, the furniture in our lives—parents, spouses, kids, friends, enemies, the barista we chat with each week as we wait for coffee, the people in the pew behind us with the noisy toddler, the old man next door who doesn't get out much.
That's a very relevant—and very regular—accountability question for me. After all, wallowing and criticizing have been my defaults in the past.
Am I focusing on the negative? For all the gains I've witnessed, should I just look on the bright side and forget the losses? Can’t I just count my blessings? Or can I go ahead and experience the comfort of the flock without somehow negating the reality of the lost sheep? Isn't it the joy of the hope I have in the Lord that turns my heart to longing for others to share in His grace in the first place?
I wonder if anybody ever said to Jesus, “Jeez, why don't You just lighten up... I wish You wouldn’t come across so negative.”
The sweetness of the Spirit has been very close and very precious to me in these moments of community, particularly in those moments that do feel bitter. When I follow the Spirit's leading to open my heart to another person in a way I normally wouldn't, that feels like victory to me. My heart is full, and I am sad for those that are not. I can be both. I am free to be either/and. And there's nothing "negative" or "bad" or "wrong" about not necessarily going around trying to be "happy" all the darn time.
"When we spend our lives pushing away and protecting ourselves from feeling vulnerable or from being perceived as too emotional, we feel contempt when others are less capable or willing to mask feelings, suck it up, and soldier on. ... Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. ... What most of us fail to understand... is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path." (Daring Greatly)
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