Recently, over two Sundays we dealt with “Building Healthy Community” and “A Beautiful Picture of Fellowship,” and reminded ourselves how much we need each other as a church family. I totally understand Coronavirus concerns and continue to emphasize strongly our need to practice social distancing, wear masks, and wash hands often. Because we love each other, we bend over backwards to be sensitive to each other. Especially towards those who are vulnerable, or who are caring for the vulnerable. No one I know wants to give anyone Covid19.
The coronavirus will be with us for a while, it appears, so we have to adapt and live our lives, not irresponsibly, but without fear. And we need to come back to church as soon as we’re comfortable. God wired us for community and we need each other. Thus, we need to be in worship and Bible study each week for our sake and for our church’s spiritual health.
Online worship allows those who can’t be present because of health issues to stay connected, and has increased our impact around the world. However, for those who are able to get out and about, worshipping online certainly does not provide the same experience as gathering together and sensing the camaraderie and energy in the room.
Many have commented on how much they miss the fellowship and “seeing everybody.” And others who have returned have commented on how good it is to be back in church.
Fellowship is important. Not just the meeting and eating kind, but the biblical facets expressed in the New Testament as relationship, partnership, companionship and stewardship. Take a moment to read Acts 13:44-45, 49-50, 14:1-13 and 19-20. Paul obeyed followed Christ’s call to preach the Gospel, but not everyone was happy about his message or his success. He paid a big price as some belligerent Jews turned the crowd against Paul and then stoned him. Paul took a beating for preaching Jesus.
Look at what happened in Acts 14:20. The mob finished their beating and left him for dead. When the disciples finally reached Paul, they gathered around him. My sanctified imagination sees them praying over him, nursing his wounds, encouraging and loving him. This is a beautiful picture of fellowship that shows what church family should be about – taking those who have been battered by the world and clobbered by life and doing all we can to strengthen them and stand with them.
This picture reminded me of a Facebook post I saw last week. Quoting E. L. Milne and E. H. Hutton’s classic, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet realized that neither had seen Eeyore in several days, so they dressed warmly and made their way to Eeyore’s house, where they found their gloomy friend.
“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, so we wanted to know if you were okay.”
After a moment, Eeyore replied, “Am I okay? Well, I don’t know to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself.”
He confessed he felt rather sad, alone and not much fun to be with, which is why he had not been around, he told his friends.
Why would they want to waste their time being around someone in such a dejected state?
Piglet and Pooh both looked at each other, and simultaneously sat down on either side of Eeyore. Eeyore, surprised, asked what they were doing, prompting Pooh’s gentle, kind answer.
“We’re sitting here with you because we are your friends.” They demonstrated true friends are there for you even if you feel sad, alone and not much fun to be around.
And there they sat. Not a word was spoken, but almost right away, Eeyore’s spirits lifted because his friends were there with him.
“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it . . .” (I Corinthians 12:26). That’s a beautiful picture of fellowship.