What a Quaker, Jersey Shore, and Lord of the Rings have in common

The other day I heard a quote from a Quaker, last name Trueblood, that was shared in a sermon by Bishop Lowey on June 7th.  I cannot recall the quote directly but it went something like this:

The nature of the Church is fellowship, that we can agree upon.  It is the nature of that fellowship that is vital and up for discussion.

This is a great way to talk about what I have been talking about in my local setting for years now.  It is not that I am not against having church so that we can have a "church family" for whom will bring us meals when we are sick or have social time with on the weekends.  I am not against that sort of fellowship at all, I just wonder if that is the fellowship of the Church that we ought to be working toward?

I hear many people talk about their church fellowship like one might think of the Brady Bunch, the Odd Couple or even the Jersey Shore.  That is a group of people from different backgrounds coming together to try to live together.  They have their disagreements and their good times, but ultimately they are just trying to survive and navigate life's ups and downs.

Frankly, I am not that interested in a Brady/Odd/Jersey fellowship.  From my perspective, these fellowships serve a function that is very inwardly focused.  That is these fellowships are interested in what makes them feel good and what makes them happy.  I am not knocking this fellowship type at all, I just am not interested in it. I have areas in my life where I am self centered and seek to fulfill my own happiness as well, but I do not think the Church should be that place.

The Brady/Odd/Jersey fellowship seems to stand in contrast to the fellowship that I feel the Church is called to do and be.  One might think of this form of fellowship of The Lord of the Ring.  This "fellowship" had a mission and a greater purpose they all worked toward.  Some were not so great at it.  They were diverse (an elf AND a dwarf!) and they got along as best as they could.  There are some relationships there were tighter than others (Sam and Frodo seemed close but not as close as Pip and Merry).  Some died.  Some lived.  Some did not see each other for long stretches of time.  There was happy times and not happy times, but they all moved in one accord.  They had purpose and meaning greater than themselves.

And while I do not agree that the myth of redemptive violence that is found in the LotR is in line with the nature of the Church, I do believe that LotR better understands the fellowship of the Church that Trueblood was talking about.