The passing of the peace is one of the most misunderstood elements of the service.   Just before prayers are about to be made for Eucharist, when the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ is remembered and its benefits received we have to be very careful.  Jesus warned us:  “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Matthew 11:25).

Since the liturgy always attempts to express what we believe, we must take a moment to acknowledge that reconciliation with God and reconciliation with people go hand in hand.  We cannot claim to have one without the other.  We cannot rightly receive God’s forgiveness if we are not reconciled to our brothers.  Passing the Peace is our enactment of the reconciling love and forgiveness of God through Christ.  We are literally touching one another, holding and shaking hands, in humility and in forgiveness, and in repentance.  God’s peace is being shared freely among his people