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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Practice hospitality

Be sensitive to allergies, unwanted hugs

Q: How can a congregation be sensitive to those with serious health problems and allergies, such as to wheat produts?

Q: We live in a time when many allergic conditions are finally being diagnosed correctly and people are protected from inadvertent contact with the culprits.

Q: Big hugs or strong handshakes while sharing the peace can be painful for people with arthritis or rheumatic conditions. And now we're in the midst of the cold and flu season. What should a congregation do?

A: In the sharing of the peace, we nurture our sense of community in Christ and offer one another a gesture of reconciliation and mutual forgiveness before we come to communion. This varies in congregations from a simple handshake to those who enthusiastically embrace everyone within reach — and then some. Since the passing of the peace is an act of hospitality, it's important to be aware of the level of response other worshipers welcome. We should embrace only those whom we know would welcome an embrace, and I'd recommend a gentle one at that. If we're the ones concerned about such contact, we can properly and gently alert our neighbor.


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