Now, hers’s a thing! There are only three people in the world who call me “Mickey Mellors”! One is my wife, Sarah and the other two are a couple called Geoff and Christine. She got it off them.
I have known Geoff and Christine for over 50 years. I first met Geoff on a Christian camp in 1968 when I was 13 and he was one of the leaders. I met Christine a year afterwards. (Remarkably I am still in touch with two other of the leaders from that Camp, although more on an annual Christmas card basis. I re-connected with one about 15 years ago when I heard his distinctive tones on the Isle of Man ferry!)
I went to stay with Geoff and Christine for Christmas when I was 15. They were very worried my parents might mind about this (My parents didn’t mind at all!). Sarah got to know them when she worked one summer in Bristol, where they lived. They came to our wedding and since then we have kept in touch by visiting them when we have been in the south west on holiday (they moved from Bristol to Plymouth some years ago).
So, why do I mention all this now? Well, because they are coming to the Ribble Valley for a holiday and we are going to meet up with them! We’re very excited about this and so are they, I think.
Now, of course, there are many people who have friendships that last a lifetime and people also have families where there are long-lasting ties that bind, and I am not claiming that this friendship is somehow different or special (although it feels like that to us!). But what underpins it, and I think what explains the longevity is our shared faith in Christ and the fellowship we have together in him. That came to mind when I was preparing this week’s devotional that (spoiler alert!) looks at the joy of being able to meet together again in fellowship and how our fellowship with each other is underpinned by our fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 John 1.3).
I was also reminded of the visit we had a couple of years ago by our friends John and Nicky who now live in New Zealand. 25 people or so gathered at our house to reminisce, catch up and renew fellowship. Shakespeare wrote that ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’. Meaning, I think that to part we have to have met, and that even though we are parting we can look forward to meeting again.
The great thing about fellowship with each other in Christ is that even when the parting is through death we know that we will meet again in the future. Even better than that is that we know that if we have fellowship with Christ we can never be parted from him – not by trials or temptations nor by death itself. As Paul wrote in Romans 8.38-39:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”