With the retirement from our church of our minister, Stephen Clark, I have been doing a fair bit of preaching, which, predictably, has been a challenge and a joy.
I decided to preach a series on fellowship to start with. (I have only preached one other series in my life before - 25 years ago in Nepal!)
I thought it would be helpful for the church at this point in our life together for three reasons:
- In a time of transition for the church while we pray and search for a new pastor it is important for us to understand what we are and why we are still a body of believers covenanted together even still;
- We have been able to meet only on Zoom for months now. What is fellowship when you can't even touch each other and you only get to meet each other virtually? Can we even call our gatherings that when we are not in the same physical space?
- Our cultural moment - what the Bible calls the 'world' - is one of increasing fragmentation. Everyone is encouraged to do their own thing, be yourself, 'do you'. What are we in this context? How can we swim against the tide and watch out that we don't get pulled downstream instead?
So that is what I have preached on over the last six weeks.
I called the series The Tie That Binds, from the hymn:
Blest be the tie that bindsOur hearts in Christian love;The fellowship our spirit findsIs like to that above.Before our Father's throne,We pour our ardent prayers;Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one--Our comforts and our cares.We share our mutual woes;Our mutual burdens bear;And often for each other flowsThe sympathizing tear.When we asunder part,It gives us inward pain;But we shall still be joined in heart,And hope to meet again.And longs to see the day.From sorrow, toil, and pain,And sin we shall be free;And perfect love and oneness reignThrough all eternity.