Thursday, March 21, 2019

Passing the Peace

I'm doing a Lenten study at my church. It's a small group and the discussion is good. This week's topic was prayer, and a very tiny elderly lady talked about her best prayer time is in the morning, in her silent house. I could imagine her sitting quietly, feeling close to God. 

But later during the discussion, we talked about the parts of our own church service, and her response was poignant. She loves passing the peace. She loves the hugs. 

She is a widow. The mother of six children grown and gone. She lives independently in her own home. 

Passing the peace can be controversial. I tend to stay in my pew and shake the hands (or hug) the people around me. Others roam the aisles. I think of this lady, tiny and frail. If she's in my vicinity, I do leave my pew to give her a hug. She always approaches me with outstretched arms and when I hug her, she says, "Oh Debby!" in such a glad way that always makes me feel as if I am, at that moment, the most important person to her. It's sweet, and it always touches my heart. 

Some folks cannot stand the wanderers. They consider it a disruption. One woman even sneeringly referred to it as 'Howdy Doody Time' (which did make me laugh). 

It doesn't matter to me, really. I like my church and the people in it. I'm also reserved, so I see both sides of the controversy. Last night, I realized how important those hugs can be.

Her children live far away. Those hugs my friend gets on Sunday are likely the only hugs she receives regularly, so they have to last her the week.

 I made sure to gently hug her before I left, one of those big enveloping hugs. She hugged me back, and she said, with her usual gladness, "Oh Debby!" 


Ed said...

We do a similar thing in our church, usually just shaking hands with those around us. But I do usually make an effort to go shake the hands of some of the infirmed sitting nearby who can't reach very many.

Kelly said...

I'm also reserved and not terribly touchy feely, so passing the peace is not my favorite time in the service. But I understand and respect its purpose (was just reading about that and its placement in the order of worship in a book yesterday).

The Howdy Doody Time comment made me laugh. Some in our service flash the two-finger peace symbol, which causes others to complain that it's not reverent. I just go with the flow.

Debby said...

Pretty much the way I am, Kelly. It doesn't bother me one way or the other. It does surprise me that people could feel so strongly against it, my motto being "if it is not your 'thing', just don't do it. It's just poignant to realize how important it is to some folks, though.

ellie k said...

We shake hands and some roam around, I try to get to any visitors near me and to the elderly. Some days I really need those hugs to get me going, living alone makes me wait for a hug or nice word some days. It feels so good to know someone cares enough to hug me.

Debby said...

Oh, Ellie, I would love to give you a hug. During church this week, I was mindful to make a special trip to my friend. It's such a small gesture. I had no idea that it meant so much to some folks. There are so many things in this world that I can't fix...but a hug? I can do that!

Bob said...

Pastor at my church is a dear friend. I am a firm believer in greeting, passing the peace, etc. but sometimes he will add something to it, like directing us to say something like what we’re thankful for, God loves you, etc. That pushes me beyond my comfort zone so sometimes I’ll just stand there. He’s observed that in me a time or two, and the last time he instructed us to greet one another he called me BY NAME and told me to do it. I sent him a text later, advising he was on my “S list!” His response: “I know!”

ellie k said...

Thank you Debby, you gave me a warm feeling with you thoughts.

Debby said...

LOL. Bob, at a meeting, my priest said something and two of us snapped back immediately with, "You're not the boss of me!" He thought it was hilarious.

Ellie? <3