|The Kiss of Peace
Deacon: Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess.
People: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: the Trinity, one in essence and undivided.
This above dialogue, which is found in the Divine Liturgy right before the entire congregation sings the Creed, is actually a more recent adaptation (sometime around the 12th Century!) to our Sunday morning service. It has a connection, though, to the Kiss of Peace, a more ancient element in the Divine Liturgy that has lost practice among the laity.
The Kiss of Peace was a time in the Divine Liturgy when everyone, clergy and laity, would show their unity in Christ as well as love towards each other through the exchange of a simple kiss. It is believed that, because such actions could have caused scandal, the Kiss of Peace was only exchanged within the same ranks. So, for example, family members would have exchanged the kiss, as well as men with men and women with women. The clergy, too, would also share the Kiss of Peace.
The placement of the Kiss of Peace here in the Divine Liturgy makes perfect sense. Since the start of the Divine Liturgy, we have been on a slow but steady progression to meet Christ and to be part of Him through partaking of His Body and Blood. The significance of this cannot be underscored more. Coming to the Divine Liturgy and participating in it is not something that we do individually, but as a group of believers. If our intention when we come to church is only to pray (not that praying is unimportant) then we have somehow missed the point. When we pray, we don’t necessarily have to have other people with us. It is something that we can do by ourselves at home. The Divine Liturgy on the other hand is something that requires other people, as well as a priest to lead us. We cannot celebrate the Divine Liturgy at home by ourselves. So, we gather at church to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, our journey to the Kingdom to meet Christ. And, here, at the Kiss of Peace, we are reminded that we are not alone, we are making this journey with other people. We are reminded that it is only in love that we can move closer to Christ. The Kiss of Peace is placed here, before we make our offering of bread and wine during the Anaphora, to impress upon us that each step we make in the Divine Liturgy from this point forward, we do as a family, a family united in love.