One of the early choruses that many of us sang around campfires at retreats was, “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” I believe that chorus even made it into the 1975 Baptist Hymnal, though it quickly disappeared in the 1991 edition. It was written during the tumultuous sixties when the fabric of our society was being torn to shreds by contentious issues. The hymn’s author, a Catholic priest, wrote it for his Chicago youth group as a way of affirming the solidarity of all believers with one another, and the hymn stuck.
While the hymn itself has gone the way of “trendy” choruses, I do hope that we’ll continue to find other avenues to give expression to Christ’s command that we show ourselves to be his disciples by the unconditional regard we hold for one another. If those words can continue to become actions, then there’s no end to the impact that the church can have on a society that has once again grown weary of unsettledness and strife.
This Sunday we’ll emphasize “Fellowship” as a core component of God’s vision for our church. While popularly the term may relate to friendly feelings toward others in the church, technically it speaks to the sense in which we are all in this thing called faith together. As I heard one child once define the term, “Fellowship is two fellows in a ship.” That’s actually not a bad definition. We support and encourage one another, because we know that at some point all of us will stand a good chance of being in need of a Christian brother or sister to be present to us.
That’s why your presence will be important this Sunday. Someone may need you to show up. Someone may need you to speak a hopeful word to them, or offer a gentle touch, or just smile in their direction. The fact of the matter is that you may need someone on Sunday to do that for you. So, come ready to give and receive such brotherly love. Our church will be stronger for it, and so will you.