Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a treasured colleague. Though he was a good age, it was still difficult for his family and his friends. His daughter-in-law read a letter from friends who could not be present. His son shared about him in a loving way, and another colleague, who took the service, spoke warmly as well. But if that was all there had been, it would have felt like something was missing: fellowship.
I was grateful that there was an opportunity for fellowship after the service was over. Throughout most of the last two and a half years, the fellowship component to funerals has been missing because of concerns over the pandemic.
But I’m glad it was back for this gathering, because there were people who are dear to me with whom I wanted to be able to express personal condolences and have a conversation. I know from experience that in many ways, as important as the service itself is, the opportunity to share grief in community makes a significant contribution to the healing process.
Likewise, community is strengthened when there is an opportunity to share table fellowship. Last Sunday, our congregation had its first pot luck lunch in almost 3 years, and it was wonderful. Twice as many people stayed as had actually signed up to stay, which was great – there was plenty to eat – but it was a sign that people hunger for fellowship.
Since March 2020, when the world shut down, fellowship has been hard to come by. For a while, of course, people stayed apart on the advice of officials who were still trying to figure out the unknown communicability of COVID-19. But, thanks mostly to the media, that caution became an abject fear in some people that has continued to this day.
And, as a result, they are losing out on one of the most wonderful things about being human: community.
This is especially true for followers of Jesus, because Christianity is definitely a team sport. We can’t go it alone; we need each other.
So be cautious, yes, but don’t deprive yourself of the fellowship you need to keep your faith strong. Christian, you are the church! We are the church, together!
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10.25, NLT).