Freedom! Is freedom a thought or a feeling? On Monday it was a feeling as Prime Minister Adern announced the transition to Level 1 restrictions for the fight against COVID-19. The people I met afterwards were all quietly smiling in satisfaction. Whether or not we should have gone to level one earlier, where are here now, and it feels good!
It also felt good on Sunday to be able to meet together again as a Church after 13 weeks. It was good to see familiar faces in greeting, and sense in the service God's presence and everyone enjoying being in his presence together. There is something good about Christians being together - there is a spiritual dimension. I am comparing the first meeting of the Rotary Club I belong to last week. It was good to see everyone and catch up and catch up on the news. It was a great time of fellowship, but not like Christian fellowship.
I have three memories of "feeling" the fellowship. Saying it like this is a bit unusual for me because I am not a "feely" type of person. The first memory is a group of memories. I have been blessed to be able t
o travel overseas on occasions and go to local Churches in faraway places. I am thinking of the Solomon Islands, Chicago in the United States, Jordan, Israel and on the Island of Patmos in Greece. Chicago was the only English speaking place, although compensated by ended up in a study group with Republican Vietnam Vets. They had a particular outlook on most things, enough to make the place seem foreign to me. However, when I met with others "in Christ" the sense or feeling of Christian fellowship was distinct. Couldn't make it up myself. God moments from outside of me.
I am looking forward to the association of heaven.
The second memory that I have shared with some of you is attending a Restorative Justice Conference on the Sunshine Coast as a keynote speaker. About 500 people were in attendance from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. On the first day, we were led in some icebreakers by a psychologist who liked playing with peoples minds. In one exercise, we had to get into groups. For example, we had to wander around and get into groups representing what number child we were in our family. There were three or four such exercises that I thought as an introvert were very stupid. The last exercise blew my mind away, though. We were asked to walk around and gather in groups using only intuition and gather with others with similar interests. People milled around and eventually coalesced into groups. I ended up in a group of about 20 men and women that was ethnically diverse—those of European descent from Australia and New Zealand. Three or four Maori living in Australia, Melanesians, Pacific Islanders, Torres Strait Islanders and I remember two Aborigines. Then we were told to find out what we had in common.
We decided to begin with our occupations and mouths dropped wide open, and a sense of excitement developed and in the end as each one said what they did, then, there were hugs and embraces all around. We were all ministers, pastors or missioners from different denominations. In a secular setting, we were one, and we celebrated it right there with prayer then a song led by the Pacific Island people. Everyone looked at us, and we didn't care. As it turned out, many of the group had valuable input into the conference and behind the talking about justice and reconciliation was a biblical understanding from the teaching of Jesus from us, although we just spoke secular speak.
The whole idea of "koinonia", the New Testament word for fellowship, means being drawn together, by whom, the presence of the Holy Spirit. My third memory is of the archaeological dig in Jordon on the site of Sodom. I dug, and paid workers carted the dirt away. My worker was a young Egyptian man called Yakabos, which means "Jacob" in Coptic. In the five weeks we worked together, we didn't have a verbal conversation except a morning greeting, the language barrier was too great. But we did have conversations. For the first three days of the dig, he watched me closely. On the fourth day, I started with "Good Morning Yakabos", and his reply was "Sabah alkhyr Peter". That was usually it. But then he looked at me and added while touching his chest over his heart "Yesu". He was telling me he was a Christian and was recognising me as one too. That was an extraordinary moment I will never forget—Koinonia - fellowship.
At lunchtime, I usually sat with Yakabos and the other Coptic Christian lads. They began with grace, and we all said "Amen" together, once I learnt the cue.
Ever thought why we are Windsor Community Church? God has called us together for koinonia. We are called to a particular Church, for a time, for a season. For some, it's a lifetime calling, for others a few years, for some just passing through. The important thing is to answer the call and settle into that calling because God has called you for a reason. I have to admit that sometimes belonging to a local Church is an act of obedience. Sometimes an act of faith. When it becomes the expression of koinonia/fellowship, being part of a Church is encouraging and worth it!
And you know what? I felt the Koinonia at WCC last Sunday.