BY BRIAN JACK - FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH OF WEST OKOBOJI
Thanksgiving and Christmas are not far away, both times at which many of us get together with family. While often these are times of fond memories and perpetuating family traditions, that is not always the case. For some getting together for the holidays is awkward at best and to be avoided altogether in the worst of situations. Unresolved past or present hurts, hang-ups, and habits can make sitting at the same dinner table difficult to say the least.
There is a sort of table tradition that still hangs around in many Christian worship communities in one form or another called "The Sharing of the Peace."
Sometimes it involves shaking hands or welcoming those who are around you to worship. Sometimes it literally entails saying to one another, "God's peace be with you."
The tradition finds its place in worship based on Jesus words from Matthew 5:23-24 where Jesus says, "So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift."
The "Sharing of Peace" was intended as a time of reconciliation, a time to make things right with others in your life there in the presence of God. The peace that is being shared is peace that comes from knowing that Jesus will not let our hurts, hang-ups, and habits define our relationship with him, but instead he chooses to be reconciled to us and to be found dining at his table with the likes of us again and again (Mark 2:15-17). There may be more than a few tables around which we cannot be reconciled in this lifetime, but Christ's need not be one of them.