How many people have you met in your life? How many of them have become familiar to you? How many are there of your companions and fellow travellers?
Recently, a sister from our mother church sent me a photo from a farewell dinner held ten years ago for church members emigrating to Australia. In the photo, around twenty people, most of whom had known each other for twenty to thirty years, were present. Within these ten years, some of them have returned to the Lord due to illness or accidents. Others have left Hong Kong, and a few have remained here. This sister who shared the photo with me also moved to the UK around the same time and now resides in another city. She expressed a sense of nostalgia looking at the photo, as many have dispersed. After catching up on each other’s lives and expressing concern, we encouraged one another to continue serving the Lord in our respective communities.
Taking a moment to reflect on life, I thought of a passage from the Scripture often used in memorial services: “All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:9-10). Life spans just a few decades, and I pondered whether I had cherished the time spent with fellow travellers and brothers and sisters in the faith. Recalling various moments, there were hardships and joys, falls and support, growth within the church, conflicts and forgiveness, all experienced as we loved one another in Christ.
Lately, I’ve been watching a Japanese anime series titled “Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End,” which tells the story of Frieren, an elf, and her companions on a ten-year journey to defeat the Demon King. After their quest is completed, they return to their individual lives but agree to reunite fifty years later to watch a meteor shower. Time passes quickly, and it’s now fifty years later. The human brave of the story passes away shortly after watching the meteor shower, but Frieren, who has a lifespan of over a thousand years due to being an elf, remains unchanged. At the brave’s funeral, Frieren begins to cry, realising that she hadn’t truly appreciated the time she spent with her companions. This event sparks a quest for the meaning of life and prompts Frieren to build new relationships on her subsequent adventures, making her appreciate the details of life with her companions.
As we find ourselves in the UK today, we may experience a sentiment similar to Frieren’s. We might part ways with our past companions and need to establish new communities in a new environment while seeking new fellow travellers. Could this be one of the goals in our lives? The church is a gathering place for Christians. Can we once again learn to build new spiritual companionships? Can we truly engage with and love one another within our fellowships?