This week’s focus is on joyful, inclusive, fellowship. As I thought about what this means for our congregation it occurred to me that because of the last word, fellowship, we might tend to think about our time at church when we are not worshiping together. I don’t think we can separate worship from fellowship. Fellowship to me is time spent with my fellow disciples on our journey of faith.
Two stories come to mind that illustrate this core value. Chuck Swindoll tells of a young homeless man who was led by God’s spirit into a church worship service. When the man looked around, he didn’t see any seats open, so he went down to the front of the church and sat on the floor. There was a murmur in the congregation and the ushers huddled to see who was going to go up and lead him out. Before they could respond an elderly man rose and using his cane went down to where the man was sitting and proceeded to sit down on the floor next to him. With this action he was including the young man into their fellowship.
The other story comes from Fred Craddock. He relates traveling through Oak Ridge Tennessee and stopping to eat at a restaurant that was in a former church building, a building that he once served in as pastor. As he looked around, he noticed that there were African Americans and different races from all over the world eating together. He thought to himself that if the congregation he had served had been willing to welcome these people there would still be a church there.
Two stories, two different responses. One response an act of inclusiveness. The other the opposite.
Which kind of response reflects Christ? Which congregation do you want to be part of? It is up to each of us to be inclusive. Doing it joyfully is discipleship.
Lord, disturb our comfort so that we will include all who pass our way. Amen.
Always, to God be the glory!