In my ideal world, church services would be solitary affairs: we would stare into our Styrofoam coffee cups, worship quietly, and then go our separate ways, exchanging words with no one save for God above.
In reality, though, that paradise of introversion is not an option—Christianity is meant to be lived and experienced in community. Every Sunday, we gather with strangers, recite ancient creeds and confessions in unison, and sing aloud for all to hear. Worship is meant to be something we do together.
For many of those naturally drawn to reclusive expressions of faith, though, one moment of every service elicits more dread than any other: the Passing of the Peace, or “Greeting Time” (if you’re part of a less liturgical congregation). In theory, this is a moment to experience the joys of communing with fellow believers. In practice, it’s a minefield of faux pas and potentially catastrophic social interactions for the non-gregarious communicant.
Over the years, ...