What is the local congregation about? Fellowship in Christ. In those words we find what the congregation is to be about. It begins in Christ - the Lord, the Savior, the Messiah, the One who will come again. In Christ we find our life, our being, our present and our future. In Christ our past is forgiven (forgotten by Him but held onto by us so that we do not repeat the action of the past and make it an action of the present or future). Day in and day out, we are to be about Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. If we proclaim anything other than Jesus Christ, Him crucified and risen, we are preaching a gospel that is not the Christ of Scripture. So the congregation is about Christ, receiving daily life from Him alone.
In this Christ, we have fellowship - with Him and with one another. To proclaim Christ without living in the oneness, the fellowship of the body of Christ, is to proclaim a Christ that has no impact upon our lives. Who He is, what He has done, what He is doing and what He shall do (this sounds much like the One found in the Revelation, the "One who is, who was and who is to come") impacts our fellowship with one another. If I am righteous, then I can treat you as one who is not. But if I fully understand that I live under the grace of Christ because I am unrighteous, a lost and condemned sinner, one who has been forgiven in Christ, not because of what I have done but what He has done and still does for me, then I will live as one who loves others who themselves are just like me, forgiven sinners under the love of Christ. This makes us "fellows" on the same path, traveling the same way, being loved by the same Lord and lifted up by the same Spirit. We are in a oneness with each other in Christ.
That is the fellowship that we tasted of last night at the Mother/Daughter/Friend Salad Supper. That is the fellowship that we drunk deeply of over the weekend at the SID Junior High Youth Gathering at Camp Wartburg. And that is the fellowship that flows freely each weekend as we join in worship on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Together in worship, we fellowship around the words of Christ and His body and blood in the Sacrament. The focus is not upon us but upon Him. We look not to each other for strength or forgiveness but to Christ alone for that strength and forgiveness. We look to each other as fellow travelers upon this rough and difficult road called life. The fellowship we have with each other, shown as we sit around tables, laughing, talking, eating and praising God by our lives, the fellowship that we have as we lift up our hearts in prayer or our voices in songs of praise and thanksgiving, the fellowship we have as we kneel at the altar comes from the love of Christ and all that He is for each of us.
I greatly enjoyed last night. The M/D/F dinner is always a highlight of the month of October. It is so wonderful so see so many people talking, laughing and eating together, especially as I realize that it is taking place because we are one in Christ, we have fellowship with each other coming from a oneness we have with each other. As I looked out on all the faces of the women gathered and the men serving, I was filled with a warmness. That warmness was love, the love of Christ that leads my heart to love each and every one of you that were there. It lead my heart to ache at the thought of those who were not able to be present for whatever reason. I longed for those who were missing and rejoiced in those who were present. I give thanks for the women who put it together. I lift up my heart in praise to God for those who were present, those who were laughing and talking, those who were eating and rejoicing, those who were living in the love and fellowship of Christ.
Yes, last night was fun. It was uplifting. It filled my heart with hope. It showed me Christ is in our midst. He is working in wonderful ways. He is giving us fellowship - in Him and with each other. Thanks for last night. It was worth every moment. I look forward to next year's dinner. And I look forward to this weekend when we will fellowship once again.