Friendship that is Fellowship
Was desperately prepping for a Bible study while my tummy was fighting down the maple-syrup mould (long story), when a Curate sat down for a random chat. Despite the less-than-favourable circumstances, was grateful for more than an hour of fruitful talk about embarrassing stories of our common weaknesses and attempts to change; about what it means to love another – of not insisting on rights, of self-sacrificially serving the other; about directing the emotions to be angry at what is sin, not what might merely be people’s expectations of us.
I do dearly love this brother and all the brothers and sisters in the Local Church who have been such great encouragers to perseverance in the faith – fruit, no doubt, of years of faithful teaching from the pulpit and in Bible study groups having taken root in the rich soil of their hearts. A visiting Latvian pastor recounted how the Local Church had been recommended to him by a friend,”In that church, even the cook teach Bible.” (sic). And the receptionist, the most junior admin staff, the IT people, the building managers, the catering assistants can be trusted for well-thought-through godly speech and advice on almost everything.
And it hasn’t been all talk: it has been a real pleasure being in a team that works harmoniously, under a wise God-fearing rector who hates gossip and shows no favouritism, with people who all understand that each plays a different but essential part in making God known. The lack of back-biting, back-stabbing, bitterness, and complaining is absolutely amazing.
And friendship amongst non-staff members is indistinguishable from fellowship – always (in the categories of Vaughan Roberts’ True Friendship) Christ-centred, careful, candid, and with a smaller group, constant and close.
Who knows how long, by the grace of God, this wonderful state of affairs will last. But, as much as the Local Church is a well-taught and mutually-encouraging church, it is far more a praying church. And a older staff member likes to pray,”Thank you God that you have allowed us to be part of this stage of the life of this church. In your mercy, please keep us loving and serving you and your people, for your glory.”