Dear members and friends of VP,
On Monday, February 25th we had a Sports and Fellowship Night organized by Joey Ruiz, our new youth leader. It was a joy to see over 30 people show up with parents, youth and children involved. Both of our congregations, Spanish and English, participated. We all had fun and it was a true reflection of Valley Park’s members enjoying each other as a church family.
One of those attending sat with me while we were eating and noted that I looked very happy. She was right. She told me she knew that this was the type of activity I wanted to see in the church. She was right again. It is my sincere desire that the members and friends of VP enjoy what I consider to be “true Christian fellowship.”
The term “fellowship” references a Greek word that means having all things in common. It indicates an attitude committed to sharing all things because all we have belongs to Jesus. Fellowship represents a high degree of connectedness and selflessness among those who are connected.
In 1773, John Fawcett, a powerful preacher and writer, was called from Wainsgate, England, to a large and influential church in London. As he was loading his wagons to move, he was greeted by members of his congregation who had come to say good bye. His wife turned to him crying and said “John, I cannot bear to leave!” to which he turned and replied “Nor can I. We shall remain here with our people.” John Fawcett spent his entire fifty-four-year ministry in Wainsgate, England. Out of that experience, Fawcett wrote the beautiful hymn, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds” is an expression of what John Fawcett had experienced in the fellowship of his small church in the 1700s. The first verse celebrates Christian fellowship as like our Lord’s relationship to the Father and His disciples as expressed in John 17:20-23.
“Blessed be the tie that bindsJohn 17: 20-23
Our hearts in Christian love,
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.”
True Christian Fellowship does not just happen in the church. It is something that must be prioritized as worthy of our investment of time. The investments that build fellowship are many.
For Jesus, I am convinced it happened around the table when eating, sharing and discussing the important things in life. On the night before He died, Jesus said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). After passing the bread, Jesus said “Do this, in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Communion, I believe, could be as much about “shared life” around a meaningful meal as it is about the ritual most churches have made of it. Jesus enjoyed the time He spent around a table with His disciples when He instituted the Last Supper.
But there are many things that contribute to true Christian fellowship. Playing sports can promote getting to know our brethren around something that is fun. Playing games can allow for time of sharing while focusing upon something that may be both fun and competitive. Working with other Christians in doing something meaningful promotes fellowship. Such things as mission trips involve working with people and seeing their heart for serving others. Retreats, camping trips and simple day outings offer great opportunity to slow down and prioritize knowing others who participate. Study groups and praying with other Christians promote growth in fellowship.
It would be a simple conclusion to say that any-thing we are willing to do with people who are loving and serving Jesus promotes growth in Christian fellow-ship. The most important requirement is willingness to give of our time for the people we call brethren. Without spending time with our fellow Christians, fellowship cannot grow. The more time we spend with our brethren, the deeper the potential of the bond. True Christian fellowship is the fruit of fruit of our investment in loving the brethren over time. It is the fruit of obeying the New Commandment (John 13:34-35; 15:12-17)
It is absolutely true that my desire for VP is that it becomes a fellowship that reflects the oneness of Jesus with His Father and His disciples. Whenever I witness the shared involvement in anything involving Christians, I know God is present and proud. Let us together continue to embrace a commitment to the fellowship that binds us together, makes us one, and bears witness to God’s presence among us.