by Rev. Antony W. Ball
As I type this, our Harvest Supper is scheduled for tomorrow evening but, by the time you read this, it will have taken place and will, I trust, have been enjoyed – although it’s unlikely that there’ll be as many of us as in this photograph. It’s one of the relatively few ‘social’ events organised by our Church and I’m ‘in two minds’ about that. As most of you already know, I’m not an instinctively ‘sociable’ person and I try to avoid ‘parties’ of any kind, but that is something about which I tend to feel more ashamed than proud.
Our sort of Church is often called a ‘fellowship’ because of the love and friendship we should all be showing each other whenever we meet together. Most of us (not quite all) routinely meet for tea/coffee and biscuits in the hall after morning services and we occasionally have ‘Teas’ to celebrate great events like our late Queen’s Jubilee or our new King’s coronation, but they are obviously rare events. Of course, if we arrive early enough for Bible Studies or other meetings we can chat then, but within the whole compass of Church life we don’t have many opportunities for really getting to know each other as distinct from simply worshipping together.
The solution? I’m the last person to ask, for the reasons I’ve already indicated above, but maybe we should be giving this ‘problem’ – if that’s what it is – some serious thought. Jesus tells us, in that text above, that the way we love each other should be a sign to others that we are His disciples – in other words that we are Christians. Historically speaking, the worldwide Church does not have a good ‘track record’ in this respect and various branches of the Church have been ‘at each other’s throats’ for centuries, but let’s remember that loving each other does not necessarily mean liking each other – we know that even Jesus’ twelve disciples didn’t always like each other (e.g. Mt xx 24) – but they stayed together out of their love for Jesus and for each other. Loving each other is more caring deeply about each other than liking each other – even within a Church we may come across people we don’t particularly like, but that shouldn’t stop us caring for them and caring about them.