Monday, August 8, 2011

Fellowship, the Forgotten Component - by Clint

When I was a protestant missionary, we focused on two major things:

1. Present a viable and uplifting worship service each Sunday.

2. Provide multiple opportunities for fellowship, meaning times that people could come together for enjoyable gatherings.

Of course, there were other things that we did that supplemented those two goals, such as language acquisition, cultural studies, etc. But those two things were what we really wanted to do. In my opinion, we were pretty successful with the second goal, but not so successful with the first.

So it is not surprising that one of the first things that drew me to Orthodoxy was the beautiful and meaningful worship at the Divine Liturgy. I had been missing that sort of experience.

I have spent the past few years absorbing worship, yet I think I have sometimes neglected the fellowship that is also an important part of the Christian experience. That is too bad, because, we are all in this together. We shouldn't let our Sunday worship at the liturgy to be the only time we spend time together.

My family was blessed to spend some time with Fr. James, Kh. Jennifer, and their children yesterday. And to make it even better, Bob and Charlene Kinsey were also there. Charlene is a beloved sister in Christ that Debbie and I (and the kids) have gotten to know during our time at St. Joseph's. But it was wonderful to spend some time getting to know her, and her husband, even better.

Like always, I probably talked too much. But we had a fantastic afternoon, eating, talking, laughing, and enjoying one another's company. By the time we all parted ways, ready to head to our own homes (and allowing Fr. James and Kh. Jennifer's home a chance to recover from the visit), I know that Debbie and I were improved in some way. I suppose it was just being able to spend some time in the presence of other Christians.

That is something that many of us, in our busy lives, forget to do. It is a shame. We should all do it more often. As I mentioned before, we are all in this together. We are saved together. We should spend more time with one another, at every opportunity.

So to Fr. James, Kh. Jennifer, Courtney, Beth, Christine, Bob, Charlene (and even the Early's dogs!) - Thank you! I had a wonderful time and I look forward to the next chance to spend time with you. I will try to listen more next time, and talk a little less, but I know that I will enjoy it and be better for it.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading a story years ago that a pastor wrote concerning a visit he made to one of his previous pastorates. He was proud of the programs etc he had instituted in this congregation during his tenure. What he discovered though, on the return visit, was that the people remembered him for his relationship with them. They said, "Remember when you helped me when my mother died, or I was broke, or I was having problems with my kids, etc etc. They remembered him for his presence in their lives.

Fr. James Early said...

You didn't talk too much...I love hearing your stories. Plus I would rather listen to you talk than talk myself any day!