In our evening services we are looking at the Lord’s Prayer. Like many, I grew up in a church where it was recited weekly. Back then, it was a dum-dee-dum prayer that, in all honesty, meant very little.
When I came to Aberdeen to study, I was struck by the “togetherness” or fellowship of some of my Christian friends. The more I thought about it, the more “Our Father…” felt more like “Their Father…”. And so began my exploration of the Christian faith that ultimately led me to calling Jesus “MY” Saviour, that brought me into a family of God where I could rightly and confidently call Him “MY” Father. However, I then knew what it meant to say “OUR” Father. It was a wonderful transition going from the loneliness of the sinner to joining the fellowship of other believers.
“You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”
Psalm 30:11 (NIV)
But things change.
I met a man last week who, for his own reasons, has been “out of fellowship”, as he put it, for a couple of years. He now wanted to get back. I shared with him my journey over the past few years. For those that know me well, I have been on psychiatric medicines for a while. I needed them. However, I felt dull. I felt distant. I did not or could not engage with people. And, if I’m honest, my relationship with God was made difficult too.
I have had great support from close friends and family. Many things have happened over the past year where I am now off my medication; my consultant calls it a “remission”. Quietly, (lack of faith!) I call it a healing! When we started looking at the Lord’s Prayer recently, that word “Our” jumped out at me. I do not think anyone noticed as my eyes welled up, as I realised that sense of belonging; belonging to God and belonging to a church family. Standing there with other believers, worshipping God; it is a wonderful place to be.
“You lead me in the path of life;
I experience absolute joy in your presence;
you always give me sheer delight.”
Psalm 16:11 (NET)
And so I encouraged my new friend in his return to fellowship, and the restoration of his faith.
And so, dear reader, what will you be doing this Sunday? Will you look forward to meeting with other Christians? Will you experience “absolute joy” in God’s presence? Or does fellowship seem distant now? Indeed, does your relationship with the Father seem stale or non-existent? Do you find it difficult to get to church or to meet with others? It is a difficult place to be, but there are many who will understand and will help. Seek out your pastor, elder or Christian friend. Talk with them and take that step back to fellowship.
Just one step….
The joy of fellowship!