Fellowship.Never Alone

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We approach God’s Word and that the Holy Spirit, will open our lives to encounter the Living Christ. Join me in a moment of prayer.

Holy God, you created us to live in community. We declared that it is not good for us to be alone. We join others on this journey seeking strength for living each day through your Holy Word. Inspire us to find ways to live in peace and harmony with others. Dwell with us, as we grow closer to you and to our brothers and sisters in the faith. Grant us your compassion that we may truly be your people so we may go confidently on our journeys, carrying out the mission you have given us. Through Christ we pray. Amen.

 

SCRIPTURE READING                   Ecclesiastes 4:7-12                                                                                                                          The Value of a Friend

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. “For whom am I toiling,” they ask, “and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# “”

THE MESSAGE                                “Fellowship: Never Alone”

The third mark of Christian Discipleship states that we are to enjoy spiritual friendships. So, how do these relationships different from being friendly with our neighbors. Scripture continues to remind us that our Creator wired us to be connected to others. Both Old and New Testament verses remind us that God said it is not good for humanity to be alone.

God established the first relationship when Eve became Adam’s help mate. Other Spiritual OT partnerships included Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Rahab and the Israelite spies, David and King Saul’s Son – Jonathan, the prophet team of Elijah and Elisha.

In the New Testament, Jesus surrounds himself with twelve friends, the Disciples. Jesus sent the 72 disciples out in ministry teams of two spreading the Good News. Paul traveled with Baranbas, Titus, and Timothy at various times in his missionary journeys. These friendships significantly impacted the spread of Christianity to the ends of the earth. In Acts 2:42, the Apostle describes the early church devoting itself to fellowship.  The Christians made worship and fellowship a priority in daily life. These spiritual friends were vital for their survival in an era of persecution.

Fellowship in the Biblical sense is much more than meeting for coffee and cookies in the Narthex after worship. Two Greek words express the depth of relationship described in the English word, “fellowship.” The first word – Koinonia describes a sense of relationship that develops in a community or communion with others. This partnership shared with a group of people. The other, metocos defines the partaking together, sharing with one another. Both rely on the sense of a deep commitment and relationship with all those involved.

Bible.org outlines three key ideas of Christian fellowship

  1. Fellowship happens when you belong to a group, more than just being in a crowd. Fellowship promotes a connection that opposes loneliness, individualism, and isolation.
  2. Fellowship means sharing common interests, goals, feelings, beliefs, activities, and concerns.
  3. Fellowship also creates a partners working together and caring for one another like a family.

https://bible.org/article/christian-fellowship

Christian fellowship happens when we share in life with others. We encourage, support, and lean on those who share Christ as Lord. We open our lives to connect with others. We feel a sense of belonging and being able to be fully real.

In 1970, First Presbyterian did a vision process and one of the concerns raised included a need for more fellowship and connection to other members, more than sharing a time of worship. In response several fellowship groups were formed to deepen relationship with other members. The “Middlers,” “The Mariners,” and a “Couples Club” filled the gap. One by one these groups cease to exist. The “Middlers” being the last group to fail as no one wanted to take the responsibility of leadership.

Some fellowship groups fail, when they become a clique and don’t welcome new participants. These groups love being together, but there is no room to expand the circle of friendship. It’s important to note that a significant aspect of spiritual friendships require us to expand those friendships to invite and welcome others to join us on the Christian journey. We will explore this more in a couple of weeks, when the sixth mark of discipleship. Any group that closes itself off from new members will die as the members drift away because the group no longer fills a need, they move away, or can’t physically gather.

When Christians feel connected to the community through fellowship, they will want to participate and continue to meet. I gather with colleagues each month for fellowship. I rarely miss this connection with spiritual friends. We converse and care for each other. We discuss ministry challenges and celebrate accomplishments. We pray for each other.

I do lament the loss of one spiritual friend, who I met with regularly. Theologically, Dee and I were very different, but we cared for each other and our shared ministry. We met for lunch and discussed a book. We’d read a chapter each week and discuss it and expanded our understanding of our shared faith. I never felt alone even as disagreed on topics.  When he moved to a new call we talked on the phone, but less frequently.

Wednesday this week, we will have a fellowship event at the Italian House Restaurant over lunch. Some will plan to go to the Triumphant Quartet concert at the Fireside. I know that a few people are looking into a book club. In the fall, our Bible Studies will resume and each one includes a bit of fellowship too.

When we engage in fellowship with other Christians, we feel God’s presence and never feel alone. I encourage you to participate in with others in Christian fellowship. Jesus calls us to connect with others to share and enrich our faith journey. TGBTG. Amen

 

  November 2017  
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