Friendship Gratitude

Our church celebrated our Commitment Sunday today which is actually one of my favorite Sunday’s of the year.  I love the idea that we all make our own contributions to the life of the Church.  Today we focused specifically on our financial contributions but we also contribute our gifts and graces.  We give of ourselves.  We are part of a community, a church family and we share our lives together.  These relationships are important.  Just like our relationship with Jesus is important.  But you see, Jesus gave us the gift of the church because Jesus knew that we were going to need significant friendships to navigate the challenges of life.  To follow Jesus’ example requires sharing the journey with others along the way.  I am grateful to be reminded of this lesson when sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

You probably know that feeling, too.  Is there some aspect of your life that you feel like you are doing some heavy lifting in?  That you or a group of you are responsible for?  Maybe it’s an ultimate outcome on a project.  Or the wellbeing of an organization or your own family.  Or maybe it’s the care and health of a loved one.  Or maybe its the mental or physical care of your own self.  You can fill in the blank.  But do you have someone or someones that you can share the journey with?  Or the burden?  Or at least talk about what’s going on with a family member or a friend?

I was reminded of the value of friendships this past weekend.  I will confess it’s a little hard for pastors to nurture friendships.  It gets complicated when you are still pastor for those you hang around with.  You have to manage your time in order to try and make and nurture relationships outside of the church.  Or for me, I find myself most successful nurturing friendships with colleagues who work in other communities.

Last Friday, in spite of the clouds, I hopped in my friend, Charlotte’s, little red classic convertible MG and took to the BlueRidge Parkway.  While the sky may not have been sunny and blue, the leaves were still putting on a show!  Even though it had been a while since we spent time together we just talked and talked and listened and listened the whole afternoon.  Celebrating the wonderful moments of life.  And encouraging each other during the challenging chapters.   And it was a gift.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10   – 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

John 15:12-15   – 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  (NIV)

So I add to my list of things I am thankful for this day my friendship gratitude.  If there’s a friend in your life you haven’t connected with in a while, pick up the phone and call or drop a handwritten note to.  Text if you have to, but connect.  Remember, Jesus called us to share life together, we just weren’t meant to go it alone.  It’s ok to be vulnerable.  To admit it’s not all picture perfect.  That you haven’t got it all figured out.  Because none of us do.  And that only brings us closer together.  And closer to God in the end.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Lory Beth

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