Wednesday, March 10, 2010

pass the peace in God’s world as acts of prodigal fathering

I fumbled the benediction in chapel today. Life’s a bit full at the moment, so I was bound to fumble something at some point and life’s like that.

The Biblical text was the prodigal son and around that Jonny Baker and I framed call to worship, an imaginative engagement with the text, some stations to allow reflection, confession, intercession and communion.

I was aware that there was no “passing of the peace” and aware that this has been a feature of various Uniting College chapel service’s I’ve been a part of. I’d been teaching just before chapel, looking at New Testament images of church. Which include the new creation and salt, as an image for a church deeply immersed in the world.

So it seemed to me in light of that impulse, that passing the peace could thus be an act of benediction, an invitation to mission as Christ’s reconciling people, offering the embrace of the father as an act of prodigal fathering.

So I decided in the midst of the service to conclude with a benediction, “Go, Pass the peace, in God’s world.”

So I invited people to face the door. But all that came out was the word “peace.” I waited for more. So did those gathered. I knew I had more to say, but my brain had simply stopped working. And so we all exited, knowing that something had not quite been completed.

Life’s like that sometimes.

So I simply note it here for completeness, for humour and as a theological and liturgical question:
What are the implications of making the passing of the peace the benediction, rather than an act in worship and after confession?

Posted by steve at 01:22 PM


  1. It’s nonintellectual me and I don’t understand your last question, but I would say that it is a lot less stressful to remember the word PEACE for the rest of the week than the phrase GO, PASS THE PEACE IN GOD’S WORLD. …PEACE!!!

    Comment by Ingrid — March 10, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

  2. ah! but you’d said that the story wasn’t complete, and that we were its telling. so it sounded like an invitation to be that. that’s what i heard.

    great worship. excellent mixing of stuff from several cultures across time and space. and in several ways it edged chapel worship further into new territory.

    Comment by craig mitchell — March 10, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

  3. thanks Craig. edgey “chapel worship” – almost an oxymoron! 🙂

    it was a relief to have it come together so well – doing stuff UK-Aus-Kiwi-Irish – requires a lot of “sync”


    Comment by steve taylor — March 11, 2010 @ 7:35 am

  4. I heard the benediction similarly to Craig.
    And that was such a fabulous worship experience. your telling of the story brings tears to my eyes with it’s capturing of the great, sacrificial, generous, forgiving love of the parent, thank you.
    The musical accompaniment to communion added depth to it for me, too. took us from the uncertainty of the unfinished ending of the story and wondering about our response back into the warmth and joy of God’s embrace of God’s wayward children. marvellous.
    The Irish poetry, too, was – no i don’t have words. just the deep assent of the soul.

    Comment by Sarah Agnew — March 11, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  5. thanks sarah. really appreciate the feedback


    Comment by steve — March 12, 2010 @ 10:43 am

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