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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Episcopal Church but Were Afraid to Ask:
Why do we exchange the peace in the middle of the liturgy?
“Sharing God’s peace is not simply offering a friendly hello to those sitting around you. Sharing God’s peace is not a time for catching up on news with your neighbor or for reminding someone about an upcoming meeting. Sharing God’s peace does not require each worshiper to offer a sign of God’s peace to every other worshiper present. The “exchange of peace” (also commonly called “sharing the peace” or “passing the peace”) is an act of reconciliation that serves as a transition point between the Word and Meal portions of the liturgy… The exchange of peace is a ministry, an announcement of grace we make to each other, a summary of the gift given to us in the liturgy of the Word. This ministry we do to each other is far greater than a sociable handshake or a ritual of friendship or a moment of informality. Because of the presence of Jesus Christ, we give to each other what we are saying: Christ’s own peace.” (Definition adapted from the ELCA)
"It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 9).
The Book of Common Prayer is a treasure chest full of devotional and teaching resources for individuals and congregations, but it is also the primary symbol of our unity. We, who are many and diverse, come together in Christ through our worship, our common prayer.
“In him you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 368).
As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, and both our worship and our mission are in Christ’s name. In Jesus, we find that the nature of God is love, and through baptism, we share in his victory over sin and death.
In the waters of baptism we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ.
“The Creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 851).
We will always have questions, but in the two foundational statements of faith – the Apostles’ Creed used at baptism, and the Nicene Creed used at communion – we join Christians throughout the ages in affirming our faith in the one God who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us.