Peace Be With You
“Salute one another with an holy salutation. The churches of Christ salute you.” ~ Romans 16:16, JST
I’ve visited a lot of different churches in my time. I did my undergraduate and graduate education at a Catholic university, so I’ve been to mass on several occasions. I was a home health care aide for a woman whose father is a Disciples of Christ pastor, and when I had to occasionally fill in for a Sunday shift, church was on the agenda. I’ve also visited Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopalian services from time to time for various reasons, mostly because I’m a classically trained soprano, and sometimes churches need to borrow an extra musician for a day. One of my favorite parts of services at other churches is the passing of the peace. It varies slightly from church to church, but basically, it’s a portion in the service where people greet those sitting around them. It’s usually somewhat ritualized, in that one person says “Peace be with you.” and the other person responds in a set way.   I’ve often wished that we did something like this in LDS services.
One thing that I love about visiting other churches is that it’s totally silent before the service starts. I can sit down in a pew and be quietly alone with my thoughts. Nobody bothers me. Contrast this with attending LDS services, where if I sit down in a pew and try to think, within 30 seconds, someone will come up and interrupt my meditation with some sort of banal conversation. Once that person moves on, I get my thinking back on, and inevitably someone else will come interrupt me. I find it profoundly annoying.
A few weeks ago, I had a realization. This is our passing of the peace. LDS services are unscripted, so it makes sense that our greetings are likewise unscripted. Instead of shaking hands in the middle of the service and reciting prescribed phrases, ward members come up to me beforehand and ask me how my week was. The past few weeks, I’ve tried to see the interruptions for what they are, and it’s helped.
I’ll just have to remember not to give the next person who interrupts my meditation a hearty “And also with you.”
————- The set way varies. Most Protestants respond with “And also with you.” Catholics used to use that same response but have changed it since I graduated from school. Google seems to slightly disagree between “And with your spirit.” or “And also with your spirit.”  One amusing aside – A few months ago, there was some sort of conversation I was having with friends about Star Wars. Someone addressed me and said “May the Force be with you.” Without thinking, I reflexively replied “And also with you.”
Image: Public Domain