Our cells have been mapping together for the past couple of weeks. They are combining their responses to a few questions on a common doc. Then the pastors and others will try to get a sense of what the Spirit might be saying to all of us through all of us.
I already looked over the input a bit when I was adding my cell’s contributions. One of the things people think is unique and healthy is kind of hard to put to words. We are a “we.” We share. We care about each other, even when we have not been friends very long (or aren’t even friends!). When someone joins in the covenant this weekend, people are going to make a commitment to care for them and they are not kidding.
The society is losing any form of this “we-ness,” so people don’t have a lot of instinct for it. They generally live in a place that is “me” and the “government” or “me” and some other “great other.” They are not associated as a guild, a union, a PTA, a club, or a church. They are increasingly alone. The sociologists talk about this aloneness all the time.
So when people make a partnership with Jesus and then with his people, they are really getting out of the world as it is. So how can they even understand what it all means?
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:4-6
Noun: Partner — A person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, often used in reference to a business or company with shared risks and profits. “I am your partner in this.”
Verb: Partner — Be together in something. “I partnered her to the dance.”
Partnership — The state of being a partner, the enterprise owned or operated by partners.
The word translated “partnership” above in the New International Version of the Bible is “koinonia.” The translators do not have an easy job in understanding how to render it. The most basic idea is “communion” —the oneness with Jesus that makes us one in the Spirit. At the Love Feast this Saturday we will share in the communion ceremony that makes it plain that we are partners. The King James Version (1611) used “fellowship”—but that was before we realized how sexist that was. It could have been “sisterhood” since the word has the feeling of being family, bloodfolk. Translators who see things from more of an individualistic view translate it “contribution” or “participation”—the whole is something else but me. I think that is much less intimate than any Bible writer would think. Koinonia is deep sharing. Even more than interconnection, it is inner connection that breeds partnership.
To me, partnership seems natural; it is the ocean in which I swim. Without it I would be high and dry. I am surrounded by a lot of spiritual land creatures who think deep water is very scary. They are leery of making a marriage covenant, much more leery of joining the church! I am sad about that. But I am also excited about offering people the opportunity to get into the deep water by living in love. You might say we keep deepening our pool.
Being partners passes for being unique these days! Who even does koinonia anymore? Whoever is in koinonia is radical. They are an opportunity for we-ness of the deepest, barrier-bridging kind in a world where it is missing and needed. Thanks to every brave person making a covenant this Saturday. That one act may be one of the greatest gifts you give to people who might not find much partnership until they meet a partner of Jesus.