12th February 2024

The other weekend I was leading worship at Wells United Church, a joint Baptist/URC congregation in that lovely cathedral city. They’d provided an outline running order to guide me, and the service was to include Communion. For that part I used a Baptist/Ken Stewart/URC hybrid form drawing on themes I’d introduced earlier in my sermon. Totally unplanned, the idea suddenly came to me to ask if they ever shared the Peace at communion, and it turned out that they had in the past, but not in recent times. I therefore invited them to do that now in whatever way they fancied, and so, for the next minute or two, people moved around shaking hands – in a few cases, actually hugging! – admittedly, a few with slightly sheepish looks on their faces. Ah, the things congregations are willing to do to please the visiting preacher!

Now this is already a friendly little church, and after the service I noticed nobody rushed off, everyone staying for the tea and coffee, happy to share each other’s company for a while longer. What surprised and, yes, pleased me was the number who came up to thank me for suggesting sharing the Peace in the context of Communion. It seems they felt it had given them a chance to greet and bless one another, and they hoped they’d be doing it again, perhaps even on a regular basis.

Thinking about this since, I wonder if it was something to do with being given space and opportunity to be ministers directly to one another, not just be ministered to from the front as on most Sundays.

Ken Stewart