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New Year

We had the annual conversation: "Weren't the fireworks great, but what a lot of money to go up in  smoke!"  Then the annual frustration of trying to phone loved ones with New Year greetings only to be told, "Network busy!"  Happy New Year to you!
It's a good time to reflect on past, present and future, to remember absent friends and to hope and pray that the year to come has more promise than the one past.  A time to take stock and perhaps even to consider a resolution for the coming days.
This reflective mode set me thinking about our Union, about our relationships between churches, associations and colleges, about times past and times future, as well as time present.  We have been living through a time of transition, attempting new ways of decision-making and shifts in ways of relating, especially between the regional associations and the national structures.  We are still learning that 'national' doesn't mean 'them' but means 'us' - all of us. We are still learning how to relate without the level of institutional life we have known in the past.
Above all, I believe we still have a journey to travel on what it means to be a fellowship which is locally supportive and trusting, regionally creative and strategic, and nationally rich in its spiritual and practical resourcing.  As a Union, we are a fellowship with national dimensions.  The New Testament word koinonia, which is usually translated 'fellowship', means far more than a rosy-tinted warmth of friendly feeling.  A better translation is 'fellowship-sharing' - as Paul makes clear in 2 Corinthians 8, that fellowship between congregations is not just about good intentions but practical and costly mutual support.  So as a Near Year unfolds, let us look forward with a clear and an intentional commitment to support one another through prayer and practical sharing.
But my musings take me further.  Paul ends his second letter to the Corinthians with the familiar words which we repeat most times that most of us meet: 'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion (koinonia / fellowship-sharing) of the Holy Spirit be with you all.'  This communion, which is our Union, is a work of the Holy Spirit which binds us together and inspires us to mutual encouragement and common action.  I believe there is a mystical dimension to God's call to us for life together as a Union.  Let us resolve to explore this common life in the Spirit in the coming year, allowing ourselves to be stretched and excited by the God of grace without whom we can do nothing.

Chris Ellis

If you want to think more about worship with Chris, then visit Let's Talk about Worship where you will find a series of interviews with Chris and some great linked resources for small group study in your church.
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