“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)
I am admittedly a huge baseball fan. Beyond the end of winter and the warmer weather, I think I enjoy spring because it heralds in a new season of baseball. And I follow my team, The Cincinnati Reds, pretty faithfully , even in bad times. They’ve been my team since I was a young boy. I can remember many nights listening to the radio broadcast of a game being played on the west coast,long after I was supposed to be asleep.
And I can tell you that there is no place like Cincinnati for Opening Day. It’s an unofficial holidays people take to the streets, go to the parade and make their way down to the stadium. Local cover bands abound at every turn. I’ve been to 24 Opening Days in a row. And I wouldn’t miss it.
The Reds lost their opening game. They didn’t look good. And I fear that the words reds and loss might be written together more than I’d like this year. It rained hard for three innings. There have been years that an Opening Day like that, flat play a loss and mediocre weather would probably have set the tone for my entire year of baseball watching.
But when people asked me how was the game, my response was, great. I had a great day. Over the years my perspective has changed about the importance of that day. It’s not that my passion for the game has waned at all. It’s merely paled in comparison to the company I keep.
You see, this is the 24th year my son and I have been to that Opening Day game. It’s our day. It’s amazing how he went in a blink of an eye from a toddler I had to carry up the steps and worry that he might fall to this handsome married man, (much taller than I) in the blink of an eye.
Now that he is married, working and going to school, coupled with our move, we don’t see him as often as we would like. Life and schedules get in the way. But hat day, Opening day is our day. We laugh, eat and talk about things that aren’t important and yet of great importance at the same time. The day becomes great because we get to spend time together. Do we enjoy it more when our team wins? Sure. But the joy comes from our fellowship.
It occurs to me that perhaps we all might benefit from having that perspective when it comes to church. Often we come to church looking for the win? That life changing sermon, the special piece of music that blows us away. And those things are good. But is that why Jesus calls us to be the church? To make sure somehow, our felt need of the day gets met?
No Jesus calls us to be the church and gather as the church because we need each other. It’s about gathering and simply enjoying the fellowship with God. We need to that time to set aside to simply enjoy being with him.
And we need the joy of being with one another. We are called to be the church to enjoy being in the fellowship of the saints of God. There is profound ministry that goes on when we come to church and someone smiles at us. Or calls us by name. There is ministry that goes on when a volunteer watched over an active little one so mom and dad can worship. There is ministry when a child is allowed to speak or sing in church using their gifts, and even making a few mistakes every now and then. That’s where they learn about grace.
What if we looked forward to church simply for the fellowship? The fellowship with God and with the fellowship of others? It might change the way we evaluate church altogether. You’re going to have Sundays when the pastor isn’t at his or her best. The furnace doesn’t work, the liturgist reads too fast or mumbles. The children’s choir is distracted. But what if we could be at the place where all of that happens, and when someone asks us how was church, we would look back and remember the joy of being with the Lord and the fellowship with the broken, beautiful saints God surrounds us with and said, “You know, it was a great day?”
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><