How to Visit a Church, Part 2

There are some things you're just gonna have to brace yourself for. Like the moment they say, 'Greet the people near you.' Expect that, and do not panic. Refuse a fake smile. Let yourself love the strangers. Refuse to feel awkward. Wait for them to turn toward you, then shake their hands confidently. You don't need to tell them your life story. Just smile and say, 'Good morning.'

This part of the service is infinitely simpler - and more of a blessing - when you are offering each other peace. It was always my favorite part of the Catholic and Anglican services I attended, and it is one of the parts I miss the most now that I am frequently Evangelical services again. If you're not used to it, the rules above still apply. Look these people in the eye. Do not wonder what they think of you. Wait for them to turn toward you, then clasp their hand and say, 'Peace be with you,' or 'The peace of the Lord,' or 'The peace of the Lord be with you.' If it's confusing, wait for them to speak and just repeat what they said. But mean it, please. Don't be so concerned with getting it right. Smile at your mistakes and move on. It's church. Contrary to secular assumption, no one's judging your ungraceful demeanor.

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