Sharing Together

As our worship draws to a close and we prepare to go our separate ways back out into the big, wide world, we often say together words taken from the end of 2 Corinthians: ‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, for evermore. Amen.’ When we were only meeting on Zoom, trying to synchronise those words as we spoke them so that we all ended up together caused quite a bit of amusement! My bedtime reading at the moment is Flawed Church, Faithful God, by Joseph Small, and in his attempt to ground what is sometimes a highly idealised view of church in the messy reality of church, which we all know so well and love so much [!], he spends a while mining the rich seam of meaning that can be accessed through this word ‘fellowship’.
Small prefers to transliterate the Greek word koinonia, rather than shackle it to the limited semantic range of an English equivalent, and he unpacks the meaning of the term in these words: ‘Koinonia in the truth of the gospel within the church entails deep, intimate, abiding mutuality in the truth of the gospel. Communion [his preferred English translation] in truth necessitates agreement, living in peace, and having the same mind.’ Well, when you read those words, you begin to understand that when we say the words of the grace together we are praying for something BIG, something that does not happen all by itself, something which means we really do need the grace of Christ and the love of God to fill our hearts if we are all to play our part in making this a lived reality at Brighton Road.
In Philippians 1:5, Paul thanks God for the church’s partnership (koinonia) in the good news. He refers to a working relationship that operates even when Paul isn’t physically with them because he is stuck in prison somewhere for the sake of the gospel. But they are supporting him with their prayers, with financial gifts, and by sending one of their own number, Epaphroditus, to look after him, and all this was a source of joy to Paul. In some parts of our world today, Christian believers can be given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security’ for practising their faith. How does God call us to meaningful partnership with our brothers and sisters in places where gathering for worship carries with it the real threat of being raided by the authorities?
SAT-7 broadcasts into 19 of the countries which have been identified as the worst places for Christians to live. Broadcasting Satellite TV to the Middle East and North Africa, SAT 7 present a positive holistic Christian vision for life and society, encouraging Christians in their faith, educating children and young people, and empowering women to make a positive impact in their communities. This is an effective partnership in the gospel which brings joy, shows love and strengthens faith, and we ourselves are privileged to be involved in this partnership through our giving and our prayers.
Want to know more? Join us this Sunday morning, or follow the service on our YouTube channel: Brighton Road Baptist Church - YouTube.
‘Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ! And these things we write to you that your joy may be full’ (1 John 1:3-4).

Tim Carter