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Life Chez Dee Episode #110: Fellowshipping

Tonight was the penultimate session in the Lent course, and this evening we were exploring fellowship, and I thought about how nice it was to be fellowshipping again this evening with our usual little group of people.

I often glance through the course notes prior to the sessions beginning, and this evening’s notes began with “it takes a village to raise a child”, and went on to talk of the importance of supportive relationships to healthy personal development. This is also true in the church community; it takes a church to raise a disciple.

I think about how much support I have needed at various times in my life, and how much better things were with support. When faced with challenges, difficulties, despair, or even in more joyous times I think of all the times too where the support just hasn’t been there either practically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally, and just how difficult those times have been.

I think about my signing up to the courses which have been run by the Church, both the Advent Course, and now this Lent course, and I think of how much richer I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually, for doing them. To have had the much needed support and guidance, listening ears, and different perspectives has helped me to grow. Whether that has helped me grow as a disciple I really couldn’t say, but it has certainly helped me with my thoughts, my opinions, beliefs and questions whether or not I’ve agreed or not.

We talk about if we were able to have a meal out with any person, whether living or from history, who would it be and why. I don’t have to pause and think. Edward is who I’d love to share a meal with. How I wish I could pop down to McDonalds for a cheeseburger with him. I’d love to share a meal with my grandma. I still miss her14 years on. Actually I don’t recall ever going out for meals with my grandma, but I do remember quite clearly our chats over meals she cooked for me. I had so many chats with my grandma, she could sort anything with tea and toast. I’d give anything for sitting for a tea and toast catch up, or a meal of homemade meat and potato pie, followed by her bread and butter pudding.

So many this year have been unable to get together with their families for meals and a catch up, and so I expect that many people wish for just that. For those, like I, who are desperately aching for loved ones they shall never see again, these are the people who they wish for I’m sure.

I remember not long after Edward died, the head teacher at his school had asked in one of her assemblies, a similar question, and when a couple of the children raised their hands and said they’d like to meet up again with Edward, she was caught off guard. Edward was on their minds, of course he was, and I thought that really special.

We listened to each other and how our action points from last week had panned out. I never cease to be amazed at the coincidences in the material I either read or listen to, and how much they resonate with me. Just today I was reading from the Word for Today, a small magazine, which one of the others in the group had organised for me to receive. Today’s thought was “You’re Commanded to Love”. I thought about my action points from week to week, how I’m trying to include more scripture and thoughts into my days, whilst also not beating myself up about not doing as much as I either expected, or thought I ought to do. Remembering too that we should love others as Christ loves us, and that too should include ourselves.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Who do I think has been the biggest influence on my spiritual life? That’s a hard question. I spent most Sundays as a child either at church or Sunday School, it was familiar and something we just did. I don’t really think I thought too much about it if I’m honest. Fast forward quite a few years, and my visits to church were far from regular … they became very sporadic. With the exception of our wedding, and the boys’ christenings, I didn’t really think too much of going to church. The first time I felt as though I belonged to a church was actually when I moved to the area and started going to a playgroup at Fairhaven Methodist Church. I was welcomed. The children were welcomed. The family was welcomed. Welcomed, invited to worship, invited to share in the church community, we felt like we belonged. And they were there for us at the most difficult time for us, helping us organise Edward's funeral. Since Edward's death I have been searching for answers to a great deal, searching for my soul, searching for Edward. I like to think of him with God, not at rest, but being the terrific hurricane that he always was, shaking everyone up, having a mission to do, getting the job done. I think Edward's death has been the biggest influence on my spiritual life.

We think again about ourselves as individuals, yet all of us together in the church community. We think about the gifts we have, and how they differ in each of us. I think about my own gifts, how I have done so much to raise awareness of meningitis and sepsis and founded a charity in Edward’s name; how I have discovered and enjoy writing, and how this has not only helped me on many levels, but hopefully has also helped others too. I think about my characteristics of honesty, integrity, and loyalty and think of these too as gifts. I know I give an enormous amount of time to both the charity and my writing, and I give it with generosity, kindness, energy, compassion and empathy. I look around at the others in the group and I think about the gifts I feel they have, probably very different to the ones they think they have, and we discuss how others’ perception of us is very different to our own, and how others often see so much more in us than we do ourselves. Indeed, as I write this piece I'm searching for a photo, and I mumble to Justin that I need a photo and I don't like taking them of me at the moment as my hair is dreadful and in dire need of a good cut. "That one's alright he says, what's wrong with it?". I give him a look and retort "How long have you got?". "There you go he says, you're being characteristically critical of yourself again!" Yep.

I think about the fellowshipping of the group I am journeying with on this Lent course. How I may not physically be in church, but that this is indeed church, or at any rate a church community. Being a part of a church, and helping and supporting each other is what a church and it’s community is about. All of us individually bringing ourselves and all that we are, and together we are different parts of one body, members of God’s family. Together we teach one another, serve one another, encourage one another, rebuke one another, confess our sins to one another, pray for one another, comfort one another, with one anothering being crucial to growing as a Christian disciple and requires everyone to play their part.

I think about me, who I am, what I do, what I give, what I contribute. I think about my thoughts, some of which make me cringe when I think how they may be disappointing or shocking even to others, gosh, I even shock myself sometimes. I think about my fellowshipping and my one anothering and I wonder whether I take more than I give. I am reminded of what we’ve just learned, and how every Christian has a contribution to make to the growth of another; there are no spare parts in the body of Christ. I become rather emotional by this point, as I struggle with my feelings yet again of not being enough. God has clearly heard me again, as yet again I am picked up and supported by the one anothering of the group.

At the time of writing this piece I’m reading another thought for the day:

Live for what matters! Make a difference! Leave a legacy that will enrich the lives of others!

… and this speaks to me … and I hope I’m doing just that.

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