Fellowship is a community of companionship.
When I think of fellowship, I think of coffee hour after worship on Sunday mornings. It is one of the meanings of the word, and the most obvious place I put the concept into practice. “Communion, as between members of the same church.”
As a noun, it originates from Middle English 1200, feolahschipe “companionship,” from fellow + -ship. Sense of “a body of companions.”
Taken to modern day, the noun is the condition or relation of being a fellow: the fellowship of humankind. It also is defined as a friendly relationship or a community of interest.
In a secular sense, I have great fellowship with writers, with readers, with card game competitors, with family.
In a faith community sense, I was slow to adopt to this behavior of connecting with others at my church. As a Catholic, I very much just attended Mass, where I said silent prayers, chanted and sang together. Beyond exchanging peace, my interaction with other congregates, was limited. I did not gather in the church basement or some other fellowship hall.
As I transitioned to worship at a Presbyterian Church, I continued to dodge the social hour and made way for the parking lot as soon as the benediction concluded.
I felt my faith was stunted in this way. I was unable to grow in community. By saying yes to fellowship, I have experienced the power of symmetry. Meaning the sum of its parts are greater than the whole. Alone, I can do little. With fellowship of believers, I can sustain a greater affirmation of the Word and carry it through the week ahead.
Knowing my neighbors in the congregation and connecting with them, I can hold them and their concerns in my heart. And, even more humbly, I can rely on them to hold my spiritual needs in theirs.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together , they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12