When we came together as a single church, with 6 congregations over 2 sites, we united with a common vision: to see more disciples of Jesus shining as lights in our city. We united, confident in the blessings of ‘fellowship’. The sense of the biblical word ‘Fellowship’ is ‘participation’ or ‘communion’. In church circles, we sometimes reduce ‘fellowship’ down to socialising: the ‘post-service cuppa’. Socialising is part of ‘fellowship’. But real fellowship is so much more.

Psalm 133 shows the beauty of Christian fellowship. It’s a vision of God connecting us to Him and others. Psalm 133 says ‘true fellowship is a joyous miracle’. This is a ‘song of ascents’ – a song you sing on the journey with others to the temple for a festival. Part of the playlist for ascending to meet with God. As you meet with God, you should marvel at how he brings people together: ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity’ (Psalm 133:1).

It’s miraculous. It’s God’s work. The imagery brings the impossible together. Tall Mt Hermon is in Israel’s rural north. Only a miracle could make dew fall from there on the little hill of Zion in the urban south. The communion of diverse people is a miracle – the work of God. The imagery is ‘divine dew’ – of blessing that flows down from God, onto his chosen (the priest, Aaron), onto all. God miraculously brings disconnected people together.

It’s joyous. The original opens with the word that functions like an exclamation mark. Old versions say ‘Behold’. We use an exclamation mark at the end to try and capture the sense. The point is: be excited.  The oil flowing down Aaron’s beard is a fragrant perfume – a pleasant and desirable odour. When God unites disconnected people, it’s a beautiful thing that you want to be a part of. 

True fellowship is a joyous miracle. It’s what we all need and need to re-invest in. 

Our ‘all-in’ Unity Service, at 9:30am on Sunday 5 May at The Illawarra Grammar School gives us the chance to experience that fellowship. A chance to look around and see more of those people God has connected to Himself (and therefore you), than a normal Sunday congregation allows. A little foretaste of the coming, eternal gathering.

A single combined service isn’t without difficulties. It’s hard to not gather in our usual ways: we love our regular time, place and people for a reason. It’s hard to have no services run on either site: should a regular or visitor arrive we trust them to God’s sovereign care as they leave disappointed. It’s difficult to reorganise life: 9:30 is no-one’s usual time, but it’s more inconvenient for some than others in what they miss to be at church.

It’s not without difficulty. But it comes with great blessings. It is seeing Psalm 133. In the words of one of our members (Insook, 5pm) when asked about she enjoyed about our Unity service in 2023:

The all-in unity service held at UOW last year was such a powerful and joyful experience for me. It was as if a beautiful scene from the book of Revelation was adapted into reality, where ‘a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:9).

We sang together, listened to the word of God together and shared food together. There was no better way to worship God on that day than to bind in perfect unity ‘by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose’ (Philippians 2:2).

Tears welled up in my eyes while I was singing among congregation during the service. Of course, they were joyful tears.

Insook (5pm)

We look forward to being with you there! (Exclamation, Mark)!

In Him,

Mark Smith
Senior Minister | Congregational Pastor 8am & 7pm

Unity Service Sunday 5 May 2024 single service at St Michael's