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It really feels like winter at the moment.  As I write, at the end of January, the snow outside our front door is more than a foot deep.  My travels around the country have obviously been fewer during the Christmas and New Year period, though that is about to change.

I have been looking back at my schedule, both for last year and for the events and visits coming up in the next few months.  The range has been fascinating.  The largest share has been my visits to local churches and projects – and rightly so – as I have shared fellowship, led worship, preached or just listened and prayed with people engaging in local mission.

But my year has also included ministers’ conferences, association celebrations, college teaching, quiet days and retreats, discernment days, council meetings, and representation at national events, such as the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.

Each of these events has provided a snapshot of our Union, a picture of Christians in fellowship and of the Holy Spirit at work.  I pray that my presence as your representative in each of these places has been a sign that wherever we are, that wherever we worship, witness or struggle to seek and do God’s will, we are not alone.  Our Union takes various forms – as local churches cluster for mutual support and witness, as associations plan and pray strategically in support of local mission, and nationally as we support one another in prayer and in the sharing of resources.  This is union, this is fellowship – the communion of the Holy Spirit – God active amongst us gathering us and sending us, calling and equipping.

This union/fellowship/communion language is very important because it reminds us that our life together, however dispersed we might be, is the outpouring of God’s love.  We plan and serve and share, yet all this is made possible by the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers.  The Union is ‘us’, in each dimension of our relating and each aspect of our witnessing.  But above and under and through all this, the union is our life in God, the Holy One in our midst.  The apostle Paul writes,

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4.1-3)

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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