An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Kiss of Peace

A sign of peace which the people offer in the midst of the eucharistic liturgy. The practice of saluting one another with a kiss dates from ancient times and is recorded in several places in the NT. In the second century Justin wrote: "At the end of the prayers we greet one another with a kiss." Over the centuries the kiss, once exchanged by all, degenerated into a slight bow among the ministers at the altar. In the late middle ages a pax brede (peace board) was also passed among the people, who kissed it. The kiss of peace has two meanings, existing in tension: 1) the greeting of holy people, who love one another and share the peace of the risen Christ, and 2) the reconciliation of sinful people, who seek forgiveness before they share the sacred meal. In the Episcopal Church, consistent with ancient practice, the sign of peace occurs between the intercessions and the preparation of the bread and wine. It may also take place before or after the invitation to communion. The form varies from culture to culture-a kiss on the cheek, a hug, a handshake, hands placed between hands, a bow. The sign is accompanied by "any appropriate words of greeting" (BCP, p. 407). See Peace, The.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.