Let’s Be Friends

Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Morning at 9:15 (after a Moment with the Children during services). Easter Service begins at 9am. Easter Sunrise Service begins at 6:05am.

This week begins the journey of Resurrection.  This passage is the resurrection of Lazarus.  We’re moving toward death, and then rebirth.  Resurrection from the binds of death.  Resurrection from the binds of hopelessness.  Resurrection from the binds of spiritual death.  Resurrection.  Renewal and rebirth.  We’re seeing this all around us as the world awakens from Winter’s hold.  These are the big Mysteries.  These are big, seemingly outside of ourselves ideas.  

We don’t often think of this passage as one of deep friendship.  This passage is one that shows us the fullness of Jesus as a person.  As a friend.  He’s troubled, grieving, and perturbed.  He is in the bittersweetness of having deep human loves and friendships.  MARY…

Friendship seems so “young”.  That thing that we teach our children.  How to be a good friend.  How friends can help you grow.   How to choose good friends.  How Jesus is your friend.  He will protect you.  He will be loyal.  He loves you.  He will be true to you.  Jesus teaches us to be friends and how important friendship is.  It’s one of our first life lesson.  We are not alone.  We have friends and we need friends to be complete.  To have friends, we need to be friends.  

Then, we seem to outgrow friendship.  We begin to focus on a more grown up version of the story and the more grown up things of life.  Competing. Collecting.  Accruing.  We become too busy for friendships.  Too busy for friendships?  

But here, we see Jesus in a deeply powerful moment of Friendship.  Friendship as a Holy Relationship.  Deeply important.  Deeply powerful.  

Friendships are holy.  They teach us to be loyal, to protect, to be true, and to love.  Is there any work more important than that?  

We all have stories of having told a secret to a friend and then the whole school finds out because your friend betrayed your secret.  PAUSE.  These things happen on our adult level too.  PAUSE.  Jesus as friend teaches us to be good friends to one another.  Jesus as friend teaches us what kind of person is a friend.  Sometimes, the person we thought of as friend…doesn’t behave as a friend.  PAUSE. Sometimes, a complete stranger is the friend we need.  

Love starts at home, in our own lives.  How can we expect to change the world if we’re terrible friends and terrible at picking the friends we truly need?  How can we change the world if we neglect to cultivate friendships with one another that expect us to be the best versions of ourselves.  Those deeply important friendships.  Soul Friends.  

It’s not immature faith to practice friendship.  The very first books of the Bible have God as friend.  God walking with Adam and Eve.  God with Moses and Abraham.  God with and as Friend.  

It speaks to the closeness of God, which at the time was quite a new concept.  God was distant.  This was God beside.  The very beginning is a book of a beautiful friendship.  

Friends helps us to be who we want to be.  They encourage us.  They stay with us when we fall.  They push us.  They listen to us.  They struggle with us.  They listen.  They care for us.  They love us.  And there is a return.  In return, we encourage.  We stay when our friend is lost or falling.  We push.  We listen.  We sit with.  We care for.  We love. 

Friendship has a different expectation than God as Father/Mother.   God as friend asks something different of us.  To work with.  To be a part of together.  Friendships are the loves we choose.  It’s somewhere between family/blood relationships and stranger/enemy relationships.  It’s stepping a little further from safe and what we know, but still close.  It’s learning ground.  

Maybe Holy Friendship is a keystone to many of our problems.  PAUSE.  If we are expected to learn to be friends and then go out and be friends, we wouldn’t be so alone and scared.  We wouldn’t feel so isolated.  Burdened.  Despairing.  Overwhelmed.  We’d see the holy in everyday acts and everyday people.  We’d practice changing the world one person, and one smile, at a time.  

Imagine a world where we all learned to be really good friends.  Imagine a world where we all chose and cultivated really good friends.  Imagine a world where everyone was a friend.  A world without strangers, others, those people.  Just friends.  Where people we don’t know are just friends we haven’t met yet.  Not strangers.  Not strange.  Just people.  People we could be friends with. 

When did we grow out of the importance of friendships?  Choosing “more important” things over being friends and being friendly?  How can we possibly be too busy and moving too fast for trust, love, and play?  Perhaps this is why Jesus loves the little children so much.  They practice friendships. No one is a stranger or strange.    

Maybe it’s the importance of coming back to a beginner’s, child’s, mind.  To remember that what is precious is the sky above, an unfolding flower, and our friends and friendship.  Perfect and perfectly imperfect.  PAUSE.  

Friendships are not simple.  They are at the very heart of God.  Jesus came here to befriend and love.  To teach us how to be friends to one another.  When we are friends, we protect one another.  PAUSE.  Imagine if we were truly friends to one another.  To every one another.  Every one.  

Friends think of one another.  Are more patient with one another.  More forgiving of one another.  Are kinder to one another when we make mistakes and fall.  

And maybe we have different friends.  The one we tell our secrets too. The one we go out and eat with.  The one we adventure with.  The one we study with.  The one we watch movies and read books with.  The one we share our deepest thoughts with.  The one we ponder the bigger mysteries with.  PAUSE. 

Friendships make us whole.  Friendships come with the bitter and the sweetness.  The things that sting and the things that soothe.  The things that point us toward what is most important.  How to love one another.  How to be good neighbors.  How to be more than that…how to be friends to one another…including to ourselves.  

Hold a hand out to friendship.  Hold a hand out to someone new who needs a friend.  Reach out for friendship.  The hand you reach out to is God’s.  And each time we reach out in friendship, God showers us with unimaginable Blessings.  

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