This morning during our service we launched the next Holy Habit of Fellowship.
A resource sheet for Home Study of this Habit is below. There is also a downloadable PDF should you find it easier using a paper copy
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HOLY HABITS 7 – FELLOWSHIP
WEEK 1 – INTRODUCTION
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2.42-47, NRSV)
This week we begin our exploration of the Holy Habit of Fellowship, something which should resonate especially with us as Methodists. But perhaps we need to clear out a few misconceptions first.
Fellowship is not just ‘friendship with a Christian face’; it should be much deeper, an intentional opportunity for sharing and caring, for mutual support and accountability, and deepening of real relationships.
So ‘a time of fellowship’ after a service should not be seen as little closed groups enjoying (!) tepid tea and limp biscuits, but never actually breaking out of their comfort-zones. It should be a time to engage with other people, to get to know the stranger or the new-comer, to make all feel welcome without being swamped.
Likewise ‘the right hand of fellowship’ should be something meaningful, more than a ritualised symbolic gesture. It should say ‘we want you to be fully part of us, and to feel that you are important.’
In fact fellowship is a very broad concept which by the time of the writing of the Acts of the Apostles had already grown from its earlier secular meaning. The way that Acts 2.42-7 is written suggests that in the list given, ‘fellowship’ (whether it is taken as abstract, as in NRSV, or ‘the fellowship’ as a group, as in NIV) actually embraces all the subsequent Habits. The Message translation, ‘the life together,’ perhaps catches the spirit of fellowship better than in other translations, and indeed directs us towards the idea of a Methodist Way of Life.
But more important than learning about fellowship is actually engaging in it; so our challenge for now and henceforward is simple and profound: where and how can we make fellowship with other – real fellowship – part of our daily Christian living?