There is nothing more on this earth to be prized than true friendship”
-Thomas Aquinas

I lost a friend this week. Jan was 27 years older than me and often played the role of second mother, advising me and encouraging me to listen to my heart. She was the first female board chair of the church where I grew up in Texas. On days when I feel fragile, I often reach for the silver heart necklace Jan gave me when I was installed as Senior Pastor at Country Club.

Recent studies on friendship have suggested that friendship is not just icing on the cake but critical to our health and well being. For example, if you have a best friend at work you are more likely to report overall job satisfaction. I have experienced that first hand through my colleagues at the church. As Lara Schopp concludes her 15 year tenure as our Director of Communications many of us have expressed the grief of losing a trusted friend in the office, one we could always connect with over topics of family, civic issues and our own personal faith.

There are many places to find friends: work, sports, school, but the friendships we form at church often take on a deeper spiritual dimension that transcends our own styles, perspectives and opinions. For example I first got to know Max Deweese at Christian Community Camp in Colorado 33 years ago and that began a friendship that lasted until he died last week at age 101. I love thinking about the sparks of friendship that will ignite next week as dozens more of our members will forge new bonds at that same camp in Colorado. And yesterday I officiated at a funeral for one of our long-time members. Afterwards folks stood around talking about what an incredible friend he had been. Though he built a stellar career, it was his generosity of humor, compassion, and companionship that shaped their lives with bounty. As Helen Keller said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking in the light alone.”

In these not yet post-covid days, it can be challenging to find ways to nurture and develop friendship. But it’s sacred work worth investing in. Even Jesus elevated the task when he said to his disciples that he called them not servants but friends. “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” says Jesus. (John 15)

See you Sunday,