Fellowship in Christ

‘Fellowship in Christ’: A Sermon offered by Lauren Martin

Second Easter (April 10 and 11)

Acts 4.32-3

Psalm 133

1 John 1.1-2.2

John 20.19-31

My the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, our Lord and Redeemer. Amen

Today I would like to invite you to help me conduct a little experiment. I would like to ask you to help me make some jewellery – this is no ordinary piece of jewellery, not physical jewellery, not tangible jewellery but something we can make – in our collective minds.

Imagine we have just found the most precious, amazing, intricate and dazzling pendant ever created. The sight of it alone fills us with so much joy. It is so beautiful that we just have to share it with the whole world. This pendant seems to light up the whole room, reaching into every corner, even the deepest darkest ones. Attached to the pendent (like all good pendents), is a link. This link allows the pendent to be worn or put on display for the whole world to see. As we gaze at this link, we can see just how beautiful and exquisitely made it is just like the pendant, and how necessary it is. Together the pendent and link form one piece.

A phrase you may be familiar with is ‘God is light in whom there is no darkness at all ‘ (John 1.5). We heard this in our readings today. Our pendant may have lit up the room, but God’s light, lights up the whole world. There is no darkness or sin in God. God’s light, God’s truth can reach into the deepest depths of the world, and the deepest depths of our soul. Nothing is hidden from God. 

Through Christ (the link) we are able to partake in a relationship with God and with each other. In order to claim this fellowship, or relationship, with God we need to allow God’s light to reach us, and to walk in it – in short, to live out God’s truth. Part of this living out of God’s truth involves us acknowledging that we are far from perfect, after all we are not God, but we are not hopeless either. 

The writings of René Girard and James Alison may help us to see that God is not a violent, death centric God, but a loving God. We can see this in the great self-giving act of Christ’s death, an act not for God’s sake, but for ours. Time and time again in scripture we see God inviting and drawing God’s people closer to God’s self. We acknowledge that we are imperfect, we make mistakes, but God is willing to forgives us, loving us in our imperfection and our weaknesses, and ever drawing us closer to God’s self.

What about our jewellery making. 

We have already decided that this pendant is beyond anything we have ever seen before, and quite simply it needs to be shared with the whole world, it needs to be seen. This pendant, that can bring us so much joy, must be shared so that others may also experience that joy. But how shall we share it?

We go looking everywhere, in all the nooks and crannies, highs and lows. We look in that place where we store all those random bits and bobs we’ve collect over the years. Many of us may be very familiar with that draw, box or shelf in our own houses. 

After all this searching we can’t find anything that would help us display our pendant. Rummaging through our bits and bobs draw we find an assortment of links. Some shiny and new looking metal ones in silver, gold and brass. Other links in our collection have lost a bit of their shine, but they have the beauty of age, others still are a bit bent and twisted. As we continue to search we find even more links that are made of other materials like wood and plastic, as well as some pretty strings. 

In despair we look at this great diversity of links that we have assembled. What else is there to do, but to set about joining this odd assortment of links together. This fantastical assortment of links slowly join together bit by bit, actually complementing and enhancing each others characteristics and traits, collectively forming a solid chain. They form something amazing and unique and splendidly beautiful, something imperfectly perfect that has been brought together to share in the magnificent beauty of the pendent that has now given them life. Despite all their differences, this random assortment of links slowly become one, sharing in a common purpose. Just as we are made one in Christ and through the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

In Acts we heard how it was out of love, out of the goodness of their hearts that members of the early church community sold their possessions and shared resources with one another. As we know this heart felt act of caring for one another is not just limited to financial support or sharing material resources, but includes sharing our time and other skill sets with one another. This sharing is an act that comes from a place of love, not compelled through laws and regulations. Gifts freely given, with love.

Now this beautiful breath taking chain – that can constantly be added to without becoming too big – holds the pendant up for all to see, sharing its beauty with the whole world. Just as John was compelled to share the Good News so that we may come to believe, and so that their joy – and our joy – may be complete (1John 1.4).

This sharing in joy, this sharing in the Good News, in God’s light and the resulting common life made possible through Christ and the Holy Spirit, units us and brings us together, with one another and with God in an ongoing and continuous fellowship. It is this fellowship and the sharing of it that fills us with joy. Not only are we unified with each other, with our arms open to all people, but we are unified, strengthened and encouraged through Christ. The chain is lit up in beauty and splendour by the pendant, sharing in its joy, just as we share in the God’s light, through Christ and with one another.

We no longer need to shut the doors and keep to ourselves in fear (providing we do so in a COVID safe manner). Just as Christ offered peace to the disciples and commissioned them to go out and share the Good News, to be witnesses of Christ in the world and to help share God’s light, we also are called. Not through our own imperfections or in isolation, but sharing God’s light with the support of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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