The Simple Joy of Fellowship

It’s been some time since I last added anything to this blog. Not only have the logistics become more challenging with the need to find WiFi sites; I also have been distracted and haven’t found much of anything to offer worth posting.

Yesterday, however, proved to be such a blessing I felt compelled to say something about it. Sundays are always a special time, a chance for spiritual renewal and a time to see my brothers and sisters in Christ. It makes for a bit of a long day, in part because of a reluctance to say good-bye to my spiritual family until we see each other again. But recently circumstances have made it even a bit longer, but not necessarily in a negative way.

My mother has been in a nursing facility now for almost three weeks. I’m grateful she’s adjusting to it and seems less focused on wanting to ‘come home’. She still has a few complaints but they’re offered as more of a statement than complaint. We have pretty much established a consistent visit pattern of Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sunday afternoons which works fairly well with the rest of our weekly schedule. Yesterday’s visit was just a little more special.

A friend of ours, Donna, has also been admitted to the facility and is two doors down from my Mom. We knew her from church when we lived here before but haven’t seen her since we moved back three years ago. Yesterday her daughter was visiting, who is also a dear friend we haven’t seen since being back. Our congregation observes communion, or the Lord’s Supper, each week, but it had been several weeks since my mom was able to participate. As we had enough supplies for several, we invited Donna and her daughter to participate. Her roommate also expressed interest so we invited her to join us as well.

We had a simple communion service, and then spent some time afterward singing hymns together. It was a bit of a challenge since we had three hymnals, all different, which made finding the songs in each quite interesting. But the hymns were old familiar ones, and we sang and rejoiced together, ending with a nice visit with the roommate and her daughter, who lives in Australia (!). I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon.

Fellowship is a great blessing we sometimes take for granted. It’s more than a potluck dinner eaten after services. It’s a joining of hearts in agreement that Jesus is lord and God is worthy of our praise. Donna’s roommate and her daughter attend a different church, but denominational differences carried no impact as we simply worshiped God and joined together in singing. I’ve been privileged to experience this a few times in my life; sadly, it’s too rare an experience. When believers join together in simple expression of faith and worship, something extraordinary occurs. Jesus himself said, “where two or three are gathered together, there am I in their midst”.  It certainly felt that way yesterday.

I can remember in college how we would sometimes gather together spontaneously just to sing (usually it was in the college cafeteria after a meal, until they ran us all out).  It was joyous and it uplifted and encouraged all who participated. We would occasionally do that after we graduated and moved on in life, although it became much less frequent. Our modern lives have become so busy and complicated that we rarely spend time together, much less think to break out the songbooks and lift our voices together in song. And we are so much poorer for it.

Christians worship together on Sunday in order to show our devotion and love for God. But we forget there is a second reason for joining together in worship. The New Testament repeatedly tells us worship is also for the purpose of strengthening, encouraging, and admonishing one another. It is a gift from the Father for his children. And when we fall victim to the deception our worship is just a duty to be performed weekly, or we can worship God by ourselves in any setting and any method we deem suitable, we lose that gift.

I pray you won’t neglect the opportunity to gather with fellow believers and worship together, even if it’s not Sunday morning. The unity of hearts pleases God and is the living image of Christ before the world. And in a world as dark and lost as this one, it is the best gift we can offer.