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November 4, 2022

You have seen the phrase or heard it spoken throughout this year, ‘the tie that binds.’ It comes from one of my favorite hymns, “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.”

When I sing the word “tie,” I always think of the Holy Spirit – that is the tie that binds us to God and to one another. A relationship with God always involves relationship with others. That is how God created us – to be in community with one another. When I offer the benediction, I pray that you know full well the love of almighty God, the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. One of my co-worker’s little girls has asked about that – the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I cannot write it or say it as sweetly as this four-year old does. Evie is the daughter of Katie Strangis, our Communications Director. Evie and her sister Murphy probably hear that phrase more than any church member because they overhear the service that Katie has recorded as she is editing. What is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, Mama?

Glad you asked, Evie. It is lots of things. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is that good feeling you get when the organ plays the intro to one of your favorite hymns. It is the smiles and nods we give each other as we see a little one struggle with whether they want to come up to the steps for Children’s Moments. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is the relief we feel when we think we are the only one struggling with something and then hear an announcement about a support group. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is that stirring in our heart when we are still thinking about something on Wednesday that was said in a sermon on Sunday. It is the good ache in your back after you’ve bent over for an hour putting food in Thanksgiving baskets or lifted those roof trusses at a Habitat for Humanity site.

Think back over the last week or so and recall the people you interacted with at church or something that made you smile while watching worship online or on Rejoice. Did you read through the prayer concerns in the Wednesday email and whisper, “Lord, have mercy.” The tie that binds is not an invisible ribbon but something real that we feel in our bones and hearts. We see the Spirit in the faces of others and hear the Spirit as children sing. I think of that tie when I hand a baptized baby back to her parents and imagine invisible cords of love as we pray for parents and love that child – knowing that God loved her first. As you turn the pages of the Upper Room devotional or sit in your car waiting for the teenager who has been to NightLife, you feel a connection to God’s Spirit and to others who are reading, waiting, hoping, and praying.

In November, we focus on gratitude. I encourage you to pay attention to where and when and how you are feeling the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. If you are finding it hard to put into words, imagine telling Evie about it. Then give thanks.

I give thanks for the tie that connects each of us. I give thanks for the ministries and programs and outreach opportunities we have here at Church Street United Methodist Church that nurture our spirits and strengthen the ties that bind.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday! We will celebrate All Saints this week. It is a celebration to know that love never ends and we are always in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.