I realize that several of you are already bemoaning the cooler weather, but please understand that, for a lot of us, Autumn is our favorite time of year. So basically, I’m loving the dropping temperatures. I will, however, miss the regular crop of fresh tomatoes from our garden...
Here at FCC this week, we reminded everyone that the first Sunday of our Fall Sunday School Quarter begins this coming week, September 10. I’d encourage everyone to come join us, because we have classes for every age level from nursery to adulthood. Seriously, as I was telling someone just today, you never know what you’ll learn that you never knew... nor whom you might help us teach just by being part of the discussion and sharing your own experience and knowledge. It’s a blessing to be able to teach the class, and it’s a blessing to have as many different perspectives as we possibly can to encourage one another.
Since this was the first Sunday of the month, we ate the Lord’s Supper together as a congregation, and then we also continued that “Agape Feast” after the service with our monthly Brown-Bag-It in the Fellowship Hall downstairs. As I explained on Sunday, there’s a powerful, spiritual component to coming together in genuine fellowship--whether that’s during the service during our community time, or after the service chatting in the Foyer, or even later still over lunch with one another. Fellowship--that conscious work of relational connection with one another--is the mortar that holds the stones of the rest of our ministries together as a church family.
Actually, we talked about that in our message this week, as we continued the series designed by our denomination using the acronym, “BLESS,” describing the stages of a healthy outreach ministry: Begin with Prayer, Listen with Care, Eat Together, Serve with Love, Share your Story. So this week, we discussed the importance of simply eating together.
Okay, to some of us, that might sound rather odd. I mean, with so many other, deeper, more spiritual things that we could talk about, why spend half an hour talking about just eating together?
But have you ever thought about how much of Christ’s ministry revolved around spending quality time eating with other people? His first miracle was at a wedding feast, and His last quality time with His disciples before His death was at the Last Supper. In-between, He fed thousands, ate with “sinners” like Matthew, Zacchaeus, and the Pharisees, and regularly took the time to fellowship with His disciples over food (there’s a reason that the Romans came up with the concept of the “companion”--a word to describe one’s closest friend that literally means, “one whom I eat bread with”). Once He was resurrected, Jesus was recognized on the road to Emmaus by how He gave thanks at a meal, and ate fish with His disciples to show that His resurrection was real, and even cooked breakfast for them on a beach.
The fact is, Jesus stopped and ate with people a lot because it was important (and not just because people need food to survive, but because He understood that eating together--spending time just spending time with one another--is crucial to building the fellowship that allows us to disciple and be discipled). It opens the door for reaching out to people who may not be willing to go to church, but who might be willing to share their table with you (like Matthew’s friends did in Matthew 9). Just spending quality time eating together is itself a powerful thing.
Or think of it this way: in Acts 2:42, we’re told that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and devoted themselves to prayer--both of which sound very spiritual to me--but in-between those two things, we’re told that they also devoted themselves to fellowship, to breaking bread with one another in their homes together. We were created to be social beings (in fact, we were created to socialize with God, and Eve was created to socialize with Adam), and it is an important part of our sincere, healthy relationship with God to consciously work to build our sincere, healthy relationships with one another.
So with whom could you invest your table, consciously building together the stones of growth toward God using the mortar of fellowship?