Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you’ve got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name
Ok, so I’m going to date myself. I have been watching a streaming venue which offers a popular show of the past. Cheers, a television series of my young adult life was a favorite of mine. The characters all seemed to be likeable despite all their faults. There was Sam Malone, a vain sports figure, owner of a Boston sports pub and a recovering alcoholic. Diane Chambers, an uppity want-a-be sophisticate. Coach, a slow and simple bartender. Cliff, a “BS” artist, and mailman. Norm, a low-esteem accountant. Carla, a wisecracking, down on her luck, barmaid. And later, Frasier Crane, a pompous, too-educated-for-his-own-good psychiatrist. And the list goes on as the series progresses.
I am drawn to the lyrics of the show’s theme song, which accurately portray the scene and cast of characters. I know this is an odd fellow analogy, but the point can be made that the sins and shortcomings which draw the cast of characters at Cheers together are the same which draw us as congregation each Sunday.
This is fellowship, which in Greek is “koinonia.” Saint Paul believed fellowship was very important for a strong church.
Paul says, as he often did with his benedictions, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
In Cheers, the characters are bonded by sympathy, empathy, or simply “misery loves company.” However, their “troubles” are never really solved because the treatment is “bar room therapy.” To state it simply, the similarities of the cast of Cheers and the church congregation stop at “Everyone knows your name” and “Our troubles are all the same.” The treatment for our troubles, on the other hand, is completely different. Our treatment for sin is not found in therapy, whether from a bartender or a psychiatrist named Frasier Crane.
Once we acknowledge we are sinners and we cannot save ourselves, we must know we are saved by the Blood of Christ. We can then bring all our troubles, all our worries and problems to the Cross of Christ. And this is done with the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Our renewal comes from repentance, confession (sometimes confession to wise council is needed!), and prayer. Consider what James says:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
Consider Saint Paul’s benediction to the Colossians, which sums up my point best of all.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)
The Catechism in our 2021 Common Prayer Book does not touch explicitly on fellowship; however, it does give us a common denominator in Question 114. We are “…the assembly of the faithful of which Jesus Christ is the head (Ephesians 1:22) and of which all the baptized persons are members, the Household of God (Ephesians 2:19), and the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25).”
We have our faith in common, as well as our troubles and knowing each other’s name.
May the Peace of the Lord be with you always,
Deacon Doug Stomberg