Off the Wall by Rev. Dr. Alan Dorway

In our worship service we are changing the Passing of the Peace to the Passing of the Welcome.  The words remain the same, but our goal is deeper than just words of peace between people.  Our goal is hospitality, welcome, inclusion, and peace.  I know that sounds like a lot, but the Hebrew word most often translated as peace is shalom.

Shalom does not just mean peace, but an idea of being complete and sound.  It’s more encompassing than just hoping for peace between God and humanity and good relationships with each other.  Shalom means safety, security, and freedom from fault, as one is unharmed, cared for, and restored.  Shalom is about balance, relationships, and sharing that with others.  Shalom reflects the three goals I keep on thinking about this year.

 When we gather for worship, we are renewing our commitment to the freedom we have in Jesus.  Every time we worship, together or alone, we’re bringing ourselves before God and in that time we acknowledge our forgiveness through Christ.  Being forgiven, being loved by God should be so powerful, that we want to share the peace, the grace, and the welcome with others.  Hence, rather than just shaking hands and quickly saying, “The peace of Christ be with you” and expecting the same response, I hope we’re able to look each other in the eye, see each other as the forgiven new creation we are and bless each other by welcoming one another.


I know that goals such as balance, relationships and reconciliation, and sharing our faith in the world are large.  They take effort and prayer to enact.  Yet, sometimes the small, simple things move us.  We all want to be welcomed.  We all want to feel invited.  We all want to be included.  We all want to be secure and complete.  We all want to live in peace.  We all want love.  This is God’s shalom.  This is my desire for us as a congregation.  This is our desire when we worship.  Shalom.


The peace of the Lord be with you,