“Fellowship- Parting and Hoping” 2 Cor. 13:11-14
?Fellowship- Parting and Hoping? 2 Cor. 13:11-14; Romans 12:1-8 ???10-19-14
There is some deep truth that Christians never really have to say goodbye. For Christians, we believe it is always ?see you later.? It is in that sense- that our love does not disappear, does not evaporate at death, that Christians have hope. Fellowship should be valued- not simply as the world sees it- a temporary affiliation. True Christian fellowship should be valued as gift that lasts beyond this life. ???? So when I was with the mother who was dying who expressed dismay that she will never ever see her son grow up, it is not that final. The Bible speaks of the great cloud of witnesses pulling for us- witnessing our actions from the stadium of heaven. For the granddaughter who is so sad that her grandfather isn?t there to see her walk down the aisle or have that first child, there is hope. Often times at weddings a Christian bride will light a candle or use the grandparent?s Bible to remind them of their love that continues. But the Christian hope is not just the hope that someone?s love and teachings continue through the next generation. If that were our only hope, it might help a little, but it is not real comfort. Real comfort is not just found in memory- it is found in reality. The living reality of God is found in the living faith and the living fellowship of the church. This is the communion of saints. ???? The truth of faith is that there is more to life than we can see. Not only is there God- who unites those who have faith in Him- living and dead, but there are those who live on into eternal life. Parting for the Christian is never final. Separation even at death is not the end. I. STRENGTH IN STAYING- Faith is expressed in hope when we say that Betty McEntire is re-united with her husband who died a few months before. We say, in the Apostles? Creed that we believe that there is the communion of the saints. While that does not involve s?ances and spiritualists, it does involve the belief that the church is built upon those who stayed in and built up. ???? As we enter into this 39th anniversary of the church, we recognize the importance of the communion of the saints. We build on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Many times I hear someone referred to as ?a pillar of the church.? 1 Timothy 3:15 says the church is to be a pillar of the truth. ?A pillar is something that stays and is not on the edge but is a main source of support. You can knock down a non-supporting wall but don?t knock down a supporting wall- for it serves as a pillar. The pillar stays if the building stays. The charter members who stayed here have been some of our pillars on which we built- partly because they stayed here and shaped and molded who we are. There are pillars set up today with nothing resting on them yet for our covered walkway. These are future pillars. Some of you- some of you who just joined the church will be future pillars for our church. So one hundred years from now- people will be talking about those who went before them who made the Children?s Ministry Building go and the Honor Tower go up. These are monuments to your faithfulness as the sanctuary is a monument to those who were here 25-23 years ago, and the gym and fellowship hall buildings are monuments to the faithfulness of those who were here 39-25 years ago. Everyone of us here are called to be brick in the building, but some of us- those who will be faithful and bear the load will be pillars. II. LESSONS FROM LEAVING- Our passage contains one of the classic benedictions used most commonly in the New Testament. Benediction- goes when leave. God bless you when we leave you. May grace, love, and fellowship of God go with you. The Fellowship of the Spirit is also the spirit of fellowship. God?s presence- and also the Spirit of the church goes with you. There are definite lessons we can learn from those who leave our fellowship- but keep the faith. Joe and Lodi Williams are long time members of our church who about two months ago moved to the Presbyterian Home. We miss them- but they haven?t stopped existing- just changed places. Image of what heaven is like- but also an image of the fellowship of the Spirit. In some ways they did not leave the church- they still believe, still influence, we still love them. Fellowship never really ever breaks up. So the Men of the Church went last week to visit Joe and Lodi at the Presbyterian Home. It was a reunion of fellowship- as if Joe & Lodi never really left. It is great to see our college students come back to visit. Or our young people come back like Bekah or Candice Comalander Joannides who had Rhett baptized today. Take fellowship with you wherever you go- through influence through prayers. It is a part of you if you leave or if you come back. But really, the fellowship with God- if you keep that relationship- stays with you now and in heaven itself. ???? Bonhoeffer in his book ?Life Together? says that when we really are apart of the fellowship of believers, it influences us so that we take a part of the fellowship with us wherever we go. So when the fellowship teaches us to love our neighbor- it shows In the workplace. When the fellowship teaches us to give of ourselves to others, we give ourselves to our family members. III. HELP FROM HOPING- Fellowship doesn?t get smaller when die- but increases. Our hope helps us when we feel alone in our faith- like Elijah who felt he was the only one left. Or like Davisd who felt so small facing his giants. In one verse of Blest Be the Tie that Binds it says, ?When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain, but we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.? Fellowship does not stop even at death- the common faith is still shared. At the early service we sing, ?God be with you til we meet again.? There is always the hope that we will meet again- maybe next week- maybe at Jesus? feet- but for believers- we will not say goodbye forever. ?? The hope of the church is also not just in the next life- but in finding God?s help in this life. God helps in many ways- but oftentimes- and He commands this- through each other. ???? Once the Roman emperor Valerian asked St. Laurence who was the treasurer of the church- where the church?s secret treasure was. He wanted him to give it up. Laurence said that the church?s treasure was its poor, its sick, its widows, its lame. Laurence said to the Roman emperor, ?The gold for which you hunger is the cause of many crimes; its gleam is deceptive. The true gold is Jesus Christ, the light of the world? but these poor and needy are the children of the light and the true treasure of the church- its gold, its pearls, its precious gems.? The emperor ordered that St. Laurence be roasted alive. The hope of the needy is found in the compassion of the church. But more than that- the fellowship of the church is called not just to exist but to care for each other and to care for the needy around them. When we stick together- the strong with the weak and the rich with the poor there is hope. ???? Hospice will often speak of things to watch for when someone dies. One important thing they say is when the patient begins spending as much time in the next life as they do in this one. Talking to people who are not there. For those who say they are just having illusions, why is it so common that those who watch and study death more than any other group- hospice- say to watch for it as it is so common? If it is just an illusion, why does it happen so very commonly at death and not just in illness or at other times??? I will not forget there were about five of us in the room at the time of my mother?s dying. She began talking to her godly mother who had died in 1957- about 44 years before. She kept telling her, ?I am coming, I am on my way.? She did not say this for our sake- she did not pay much attention to the rest of us in the room. Then she started talking to her twin sister who had died in 1972- about 29 years before.?? She talked to her. We asked her who it was she was speaking to and she said it was her sister Emma- her twin. The true fellowship of Christ cannot be broken. We do not need to try to break it by schism or by dispute or by heresy or by apathy or by leaving. The fellowship of Christ is one of the few things in life that never dies or can be taken from you. You have to give it away.