Hands waving through screens, two fingers in a peace sign, elbow bumps and the nodding of heads are ways we’ve passed the peace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like so much else in our lives, we adapted this long-standing practice in response to the virus.

However it’s practiced, this simple ritual teaches our kids to see everyone as worthy of receiving and knowing God’s peace—a peace that surpasses our own understanding. We offer peace to people with whom we may disagree and with whom we may have had challenges. The act teaches us and our children that it is a gift to look friends and neighbors in the eye and bear witness to their humanity.

When we say, “The peace of Christ be with you!” during worship, we speak words that have been shared for generations, words that come to us from Scripture. Over and over Paul greets church members in peace: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:3). In the Gospel of Luke, Mary hears: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you” (1:28). Mary is literally carrying peace within her in the form of baby Jesus. This is a beautiful invitation for us today—to share not just our peace but the peace of Christ that dwells in each of us!

When we say, “The peace of Christ be with you!” during worship, we speak words that have been shared for generations.

Indeed, we can also cultivate peace at home in our family devotions. This might look like remembering in prayer people and nations in war zones or a family researching and supporting peacemaking organizations. In addition, sharing peace at home may invite conversations on forgiveness, how to apologize when we’ve hurt someone and how we offer forgiveness to those who have challenged us. Get creative and brainstorm as a family some ways you’d like to share peace with each other and your community.

Wherever your family goes this fall, take time to practice peace—share a greeting, trust that Christ dwells within you, and make holy connections with each other and others. God’s peace comes back to us when our neighbors respond in faith.

Practices

Before meals, try sharing the peace as a family. Greet one another with the words, “The peace of Christ be with you.”

Find a map or globe and talk as a family about different countries. Say a prayer of peace for the countries of the world and your neighbors who live there.

Research peacemaking organizations such as the Lutheran World Federation to see how you can support their work and pray for them.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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