In 1620, the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower to come to the New World. One of their most influential leaders was their pastor, John Robinson. Without him it’s unlikely the Mayflower would have ever set sail. These precursors to the Congregational Church were living in exile in the Netherlands and they came to believe that their best bet at survival as a community would be to emigrate to the New World. Before the small group of Pilgrims left their community in the Netherlands, the whole community came together for a farewell worship service. In his sermon that day John Robinson said, “…the Lord hath more light and truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word. For my part, I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of those reformed churches which…will go, at present, no further than the instruments of their reformation. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; whatever part of His will our God had revealed to Calvin, [the Lutherans] will rather die than embrace it; and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery much to be lamented…”
It might be hard to hear why, but this is an astounding and history-altering statement: There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s Holy Word. These words have come to define a great deal of how we, in the Reformed Tradition, in the Congregational Church, and in the United Church of Christ have come to understand ourselves.
It’s a bit ironic, actually, because even in his day John Robinson was a radical conservative. But in articulating his vision for the reform of the Church, he becomes in a real way, (to put it contemporary lingo) not a liberal but a progressive—someone who believes that “the way things have always been done” is not the best indicator of the way they ought to be done. Instead, the way things should be done is still being revealed to us. To get to God’s vision for the Church we must look to our past, of course, but that vision will only be fulfilled in a future we have not yet seen. And to get to that future will require faithfulness, risk, sacrifice, and a heart and mind open to the fullness of the truth that is being revealed to us.
“There is yet more light and truth to break forth from God’s Holy Word,” is essentially a Pentecost statement. By faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit EVERYBODY—young and old, male and female, slave and free—EVERYBODY—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—will be empowered to speak and to be heard.
The problem, according to John Robinson, was not that people were reading their personal Bibles wrong. Read your Bible any way you like. The problem was that people were being exclusive rather than inclusive—so the Lutherans couldn’t stand the Calvinists, and the Calvinists couldn’t stand anybody else, and on and on.
John Robinson and the early Congregationalists were separatists, but not by choice. They were living in exile as a means of survival, and their pastor longed for a future for them in which even the minority voice of his little (and at the time, radical) flock could be heard and understood, could participate in the life of the Church. It’s not your size, it’s not your power, it’s not even your specific beliefs or your interpretation of scripture that makes you a part of the Church—it’s the power of the Holy Spirit giving you a voice to be heard, and ears to hear others, even if you are speaking two radically different languages.
Whenever we exclude from the life of the church any group or any community that seeks to be a part of it, we are denying the power of the Holy Spirit to work through them. We are silencing voices that have the potential to bring new perspectives, new understandings, and new revelations of God's truth.
As many of you have heard through the eNews, through a special email sent out on Friday, and by the notice posted on the doors of the church, our Church Council has unanimously approved an “Open & Affirming” statement to be voted on by our members on Sunday, June 11. It’s a wonderful statement, produced over the past year through discussions in our Open & Affirming process and with the special attention of John Dobbs and Nikki Ramirez, and I’ll read it to you in case you haven’t seen it yet:
“Glen Ridge Congregational Church believes in Christ’s central message of love, justice, and inclusion. In promising to keep this message at the center of all we do, we declare ourselves to be an Open and Affirming congregation.
“We invite and welcome people of all economic backgrounds, ages, abilities, gender identities, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, cultures, and marital statuses to participate fully in the life, worship, fellowship, sacraments, ministries, leadership and joys of our church.
“We commit to being a respectful and safe community for all people to explore their faith. Honoring and embracing the rich diversity of God’s world, we celebrate the opportunities within our church family to share in both our similarities and differences on our faith journey.”
As we consider the opportunity to add this statement to our bylaws and to then officially become an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ, let’s remember the words of John Robinson: "There is more light and truth yet to break forth out of God’s Holy Word." We can never forget that our journey as a church is far from over. It will never be over. Because, as the famous UCC tagline put it, “God is still speaking,” It is our responsibility to seek the truth that we have not yet seen and to seek it through a Holy-Spirit-inspired inclusion that doesn’t leave anyone out.
Becoming an Open and Affirming congregation means that we are committing ourselves to a more inclusive vision of the Church. It means that we’re opening our doors wider, embracing the diversity of God's creation, and affirming the sacred worth and dignity of every individual.
It means that we are ready to welcome and celebrate our LGBTQ+ siblings as full members of our community, without judgment or discrimination, and that we’re willing to go public on that invitation. I think we all know that if an LGBTQ-identified individual or family were to show up at our church, we’d treat them no differently than anybody else. Becoming an ONA congregation means making that invitation public, so the wider community knows before stepping through the door what kind of welcome and treatment and theology they will discover here.
So, the statement incorporates LGBTQ+ inclusion, but it goes beyond it as well. “We invite and welcome people of all economic backgrounds, ages, abilities, gender identities, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, cultures, and marital statuses.” This invitation is not a departure from our tradition; it’s a continuation of the progressive spirit that has defined our history. Just as John Robinson challenged the status quo of his time, we’re called to challenge the norms and prejudices that still persist in our world. We are called to be a beacon of love, acceptance, and justice. But even more foundational than that, we are called to include, to learn to speak our neighbor’s language, to learn to understand our neighbor’s speech, no matter how different we may be.
The journey towards becoming an Open and Affirming congregation for us today is nothing like the decision the Pilgrims must have wrestled with to leave the Old World behind forever and travel to the New World. But still it will require of us faithfulness, risk, and sacrifice. We may encounter resistance from within and outside our community. We may face difficult conversations and disagreements. Yet, it is precisely in these moments that we must remember the power of the Holy Spirit IS at work within us.
The story of Pentecost reminds us that the Holy Spirit transcends boundaries and empowers all people to speak and to be heard. It is a reminder that the Church is not defined by its size, power, or uniformity of belief, but by the inclusivity and love it embodies. By embracing EVERYBODY, we are affirming the transformative power of the Holy Spirit to break down barriers and create a community where all are welcome.
The decision to become an Open and Affirming congregation is not just a statement or a label; it is a commitment to love, justice, and equality. It is a step towards building a more inclusive and compassionate world. May we embrace this opportunity with courage and humility, knowing that we are not alone on this journey. There are more than 1,800 ONA churches in the UCC and thousands more churches with similar designations in other denominations. There are 13 UCC churches within about 7.5 miles of us. Eight of them are already ONA—some for decades. We have the full support of our Association and the Conference. And we have the Holy Spirit inspiring us to remember that there is more light and truth to break forth from God’s word, and the only way to discover it is to draw the circle as wide as possible, to listen to all of our neighbors, and to see the light, hear the truth they bring.
As we move forward, let’s remember that the light and truth we seek are not confined to the past. They are still being revealed to us, as we listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and open our hearts to the voices that have been marginalized and silenced. May our actions reflect the radical love of Christ, as we strive to create a church where everyone can find a home, a community, and a place to belong.
On Friday, January 12, 2007, one of the world’s greatest musicians, Joshua Bell, arrived in a downtown Washington, D.C. subway station just in time for the morning rush hour. He took out his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin, he laid the open case at his feet in case anyone wanted to drop in some money, and he began to play for the morning commuters. Bell is a virtuoso and around this time was voted America’s best classical musician. For 45 minutes he played the greatest music ever composed for violin. He performed it on a 300-year-old instrument which is even more famous than he is. A hidden camera captured the performance. What do you think happened?
That morning only seven people stopped to listen for one minute or more. Another 27 people dropped money into Bell’s case as they ran past. (He made 32 dollars and change for the performance, 20 dollars of which was from a guy who recognized him because he has been at his concert at the Library of Congress the night before.) That leaves 1,070 people who streamed past without the slightest idea that they were encountering something extraordinary and beautiful—something worth seeing. “This is the Spirit of truth,” Jesus said in our scripture reading this morning, “whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him.”
Some of you may want to call foul here, and I understand why. Is it really fair to judge people while they’re on their morning commute, rushing through a crowd, just trying to get to work? Bell probably would have done better in the middle of the day or on a Saturday afternoon or above ground in a nice public park. And you’re probably right. But while rushing around and getting annoyed with anyone in our way and not having time for any nonsense that isn’t on our work dominated to-do list might not describe us perfectly, it maybe describes our culture and our lives on average. It may be that we’re more of a rush-hour, move-it-or-lose-it people than we are a Sunday-stroll-in-the-park-looking-for-magic people. And I think that’s what this piece of performance art, masquerading as an experiment, is trying to get across to us. Are we losing the cultural, psychological, spiritual capacity to SEE, and thereby to RECEIVE, what is most real?
On the other end of the spectrum from all this we have Fountain. In 1917 the artist Marcel DuChamp bought a perfectly ordinary urinal—the kind you could find in any men’s restroom—from a hardware store. He laid it on its back, signed it (with a fake name) and dated it, titled it Fountain and entered it into an art contest. Don’t worry, it didn’t win any prizes, in fact, it was rejected from the contest, and you could understand why the contest’s organizers thought someone might be making fun of them. But that didn’t stop Fountain from becoming one of the most famous and influential artworks of the 20th century. In the 1950s and 60s DuChamp made 17 copies of the original work—urinal—most of which were purchased by great museums around the world. Perhaps millions of people every year stand in front of one of them somewhere, gaze into it deeply, and search for something—for beauty, for truth, for meaning, dare I say for a certain kind of Spirit or inspiration—where (I think it’s safe to say) no one had ever thought to look before.
Jesus says to his disciples, “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.”
I’m not comparing Jesus to a urinal, but what I am thinking about this morning is our human capacity for SEEING. Vision and sight seem to take on a special spiritual significance in Jesus’ ministry. It’s about more than being sighted or being blind, it’s about more than healing and miracles. SEEING in Jesus’ ministry becomes a metaphor or a symbol for our capacity to perceive the truth or to perceive the movement of the Spirit in our lives and world, to see what God is doing and intending in the present moment, to see another person—perhaps even a stranger, perhaps even an enemy—not as an outsider, or a threat, or a means to an end an IT—but to see them as a Thou, to see them not according to our prejudice and our expectation and our need, but to see them as God sees them—as a child of God, as the image of God—and to love them as you love your own self. Jesus teaches us that whether we are sighted or blind, we all have “eyes to see and ears to hear” this spiritual truth, and yet we do not SEE.
One of the mistakes of modernity, in my personal opinion, is the overconfidence we have developed in our powers of observation. We have come to believe as a culture that we have an ability to perceive reality as it actually is. By taking all the magic out of the universe and describing it mathematically and scientifically as basically dead material with no soul or spirit, and by positing that human individuals can be reduced down to nothing more than the atoms and the biological processes of their brains, we have come to believe that we have finally cleared out all of the hallucinations distorting our understanding of the universe, and we’ve now opened a window into objective reality.
I don’t think that’s true at any level. And it’s certainly not true at the level of the individual. 21st century neuroscience is actually catching up to this realization. Whatever objective, independent reality may or may not actually exist out there, we ain’t seeing it. Our brains just don’t work that way. Our brains are the most complicated things we know of in the universe, but they are not infinite and they’re not omnipotent. In fact, perhaps the greatest accomplishment of our brains is their efficiency. Sense data comes in and our brains give us what they think we need to know, what they have learned is important, and they edit out the bits that they have learned are boring or unimportant or that they just haven’t learned to see at all yet.
We don’t ever see things objectively, which is actually an opportunity. It means that SEEING is an art, not a science. It is a spiritual practice, not a video camera attached to your objective brain. It is an opportunity through the power of faith and imagination to attempt to allow the Truth of God and love to break through “objective reality” into our dull lives at any moment.
I might walk past a miracle without seeing it simply because I’m not used to the idea of miracles. I might honk my horn at somebody driving five miles under the speed limit because I’m in a rush. Do I have any idea what’s happening in the car in front of me, who’s driving, who they are, where they’re going, what they’re going through. No! And I don’t care! BEEP BEEP! Move it! Right? I’ve got places to be!
At the same time, I can walk into a museum like I did this weekend and stand before a piece of art that I would have just walked past if I saw it on a table at the rummage sale. Something ugly. Something I’m not particularly drawn to. But because I’m in a museum, in this sort of temple of art, I can go through the ritual of trying to SEE what I don’t expect to SEE, to let the artwork inside of me, let down my defenses, and let it speak. And I can do the same thing when someone approaches me on the subway to ask for change. Whether I am giving change or not, I can allow myself to interact with that person as if I were interacting with Jesus, as if I were interacting with myself from another universe, as if I were this person’s mother.
This is one of the great qualities of a great mother. Right? Mom doesn’t see us objectively, does she? No way. She always sees the best in us, encourages the best in us, tries to bring out the best in us. She believes in us, sometimes despite all the evidence. She sees things in us that we don’t or don’t yet see in ourselves. Not everybody gets a mom like that, of course, but those of us who have, see ourselves differently when we see ourselves through her eyes.
A good way to misread our scripture lesson this morning would be to say that the good people get rewarded for being good by getting to see the Holy Spirit and the bad people don’t get to see Her because they are bad. The disciples get to see Jesus because they are holy and chosen and everyone else doesn’t get to see him because they are lousy. But that’s not it at all. Receiving the Spirit, seeing Jesus, is not the reward, it is the process, the means, the way. The disciples, remember, are not a particularly impressive group. They’re average. They’re me and you. But they’re committed to Jesus’ path of love, to his way of SEEING the world, of SEEING other people, of SEEING God.
If you want to feel the presence of God more fully in your life, if you want a life that feels more purposeful and meaningful, if you want to feel loved and supported by your neighbors and your community, this is way: Quiet your eyes. Don’t rush past the world, don’t rush past people, allow yourself to imagine that the tree in your yard may be a message from God to you, allow yourself to imagine that the boring 45 minute train ride into NYC that you do five days a week is an oasis of time and space where the Spirit of God is alive and active and jumping up and down trying to get your attention. I believe that wherever we are, whatever we face, God shows up, Jesus can be seen, the Holy Spirit can be received, if only you and I are ready to SEE it.
Our scripture reading this morning—in which Jesus tries to convince us to serve only God and advises us not to worry about tomorrow’s problems today—leaves many of us feeling deeply conflicted. If only Jesus has just kept it simple. If only Jesus had just said to us, “You must serve only God, and do your best not to worry too much because it’s no good for you.” If he’d just said that, it would have been easier. But Jesus always goes right for the heart of the matter.
Jesus doesn’t just say to us, “You must serve only God,” he also says to us, “And that means you must stop serving money, and wealth, and stuff,” which makes him seem like he’s either a sort of spiritual idealist with no practical experience in the real world or he’s something like a communist. And Jesus doesn’t just say to us, “Don’t worry,” he also says to us, “Don’t worry even about the most basic necessities—food, water, clothing. Don’t arrange your life to provide for these things. Live like the birds and the grass! Seek the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and everything else will be provided,” which makes it seem like either Jesus is much more naïve than we are or that he's got a much higher tolerance for risk and discomfort than we do.
So, we love this passage. We want to serve God more faithfully. We want to live simplified lives. We don’t want all this worry and anxiety we’re plagued with. But we also despair at this passage: How can I serve God if I don’t have money? Not having a job or a plan for a financial emergency might cause me even more anxiety than I currently have!
One of the problems I think we have is what I’m doing right now—preaching. Usually, the Gospel is preached as if Jesus did want to make it really simple for all of us, as if there is a really simple, straightforward answer to every one of the weird things that Jesus said to us, but somehow it just got lost in translation. So, in one pulpit on a Sunday the preacher will tell you in fifteen or twenty minutes that the answer is obviously that Jesus wants you to have a job and work hard, he just doesn’t want you to become too greedy. This sermon explains away almost all of the challenge in Jesus’ words and probably reassures you that you’re already on the right side of the line. Good for you. Nothing to see here, move along.
In another pulpit the preacher will tell you that this is just one more example of how Jesus hates money and empire and the inherently exploitative nature of markets and economic systems, and that if we’re to disciple ourselves to him, we must radically excise all that worldly stuff from our lives to fulfill God’s mandate for love and justice on the earth. No one, especially not the preacher, has ever lived up to this sermon. You could quit your job on Monday morning, burn your house down, abandon your family, join the revolution, and MAYBE that will make the world a better place in a better way than any compromise would, but you would still find yourself lacking. What about finding balance and peace and letting God provide for us wherever we may find ourselves in life?
The problem is that the sermon has to explain something, so it’s always looking to make improvements. But what if every weird thing that Jesus ever said to confuse you was done intentionally? What if Jesus knew that what he was saying was weird and hard, and comforting and challenging, and impossible and motivating? What if Jesus intended for you to wrestle with this teaching through all the phases of your life? What if Jesus intended you to come to it today for comfort in trouble, and tomorrow for the motivation to start a revolution of values?
The philosopher Montaigne who famously said, “What do I know?” (which sums up for me a proper and reverent approach to scripture) once said that philosophy is the art of learning to die. This was sort of a play on words for all those who have said that philosophy is about discovering the best and most virtuous way to live. It’s actually quite brilliant. It asks us to imagine the end of life and, from that perspective, to imagine how we would have wanted to live NOW.
What if we took that perspective with this piece of scripture? Imagine that you’ve come close to a non-anxiety inducing end. You’re 101 years old and you’ve decided to enter hospice. You’ve got a few weeks left to finalize everything. And lying comfortably in your hospice bed you read this passage (our reading this morning) and begin to review your life. From that perspective, how would you have wanted to apply the comfort and the challenge of these words to your life now?
Over Lent I reread Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Ware was a hospice nurse and she found that there were certain regrets that came up over and over again in her dying patients’ final days. One of the top five regrets was “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
Ware said that she heard this regret from every single male patient she was ever a nurse to. Every single one, fellas. Think about that. She said she heard it from some women too but attributed the difference to a generational difference that demanded work outside the home from men and highly discouraged it for women. People regretted everything they had missed by working too hard—especially precious time with family. And all of us know it’s not just about how many hours you work. It’s about how you work. It’s the stress you carry around with you when you leave the office, the irritability that puts a wall up between you and your loved ones, the worry that follows you home and doesn’t let you rest, doesn’t let you appreciate the simple, divine joy of just being you.
Ware writes, “By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.” So, imagine yourself in your hospice bed one day, with no anxiety or worries. You'll probably think about how much you worked and how you could have lived differently if you weren't so focused on maintaining a certain income and lifestyle. You’ll probably know then that those things were less important than you thought. So, now, let's consider making a resolution in reverse. How can you change your life now in response to the wisdom you will have then with your Bible lying open in your lap to this morning's scripture lesson. What steps can you take today to prioritize what truly matters?
One of the reasons, I think, that Jesus gives us these hard teachings—like don’t worry, like turn the other cheek, like forgive your enemy—is because Jesus knows that these anxiety, and violence, and anger and the desire for revenge—they change us in ways that we don’t want to be changed. I may feel justified in my anger today, but I don’t realize I’m lowering my threshold for losing my temper tomorrow. I may feel like worrying about today’s problem is completely reasonable, but I don’t realize that I’m ratcheting up my emotional capacity for and propensity for a lifetime of anxiety. Work is a similar sort of thing. The more work is demanded of us, the less we know how to really take a break, to rest, to restore ourselves, to be present to our family, to know just how to be. Some of us don’t retire because we don’t know what we would do with ourselves, for example. Now remember, there’s nothing wrong with working or with enjoying your work. But if work is the only thing you can imagine that could occupy your time productively, it might be really good for you to sit in the discomfort of just being and just relating and just loving, and letting God do the providing for you for a time.
What are the most important Christian values? What do you think? What comes to mind? If you ask the average person out on the street, I think you’d get answers like faith, loving God, not sinning all the time, forgiveness, kindness, generosity maybe. None of these answers are wrong, but one of the most important Christian values often gets forgotten about—and that’s friendship.
One of the most unique parts of the Christian religion is our focus on our connection not just to God but to other people. This connection is so important that when Jesus is asked what is the most important value?, he answers as people would have expected him to answer, that it’s to love God with everything you’ve got. But unexpectedly he then adds a second value which he says is connected to the first—to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is Christianity’s unique interpretation of religion—and one of our most fundamental and defining values—that the love of God cannot be separated from the love of other people. If you love God and not other people, you’ve gotten something fundamentally wrong. And when you love other people, perhaps even without knowing that you’re doing it, you are also loving God.
In our scripture reading this morning, the 23rd Psalm displays two big values of the psalmist (which tradition says was the Biblical King David). Number 1: God is a personal refuge from the difficulties of this world, and God is an escape from other people. And Number 2: Once you’ve taken refuge in God, God is gonna stick it to your enemies.
Jesus was a part of an ancient Jewish tradition, which becomes incorporated into Christianity, which pushes at the boundaries of this kind of theology. Jesus teaches us that God is not a personal refuge from trouble, but a universal refuge from trouble. When we turn to God, we do not turn away from our neighbors, we turn toward them even more profoundly. And we do not pray for revenge on our enemies, we love even our enemies as our neighbors, as ourselves.
Now, you can’t be friends with everybody, of course. We know that. It’s not just that there are some people you would really rather not hang out with, it’s that true friendships take time and energy, and time and energy are limited resources, so the number of friendships we can make and sustain is finite. However, a society that fundamentally believes in the value of friendship—that fundamentally believes that love of neighbor is not just an obligation, but is actually just the best way to live, a society that believes that human connection and kindness and relationship are important and which lives out those values by each member of that society putting time and energy into healthy, flourishing friendships will look very different from a society that has grown suspicious of its neighbors, that has pulled back from the public square, that has devalued the importance of friendship, and become cold, and distant, and isolated. Yes, you can only have so many friendships. But when you hold those friendships as a sacred value and when your culture holds the value of friendship as an ideal, it benefits everybody.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen the devasting consequences of living in a society that has come to believe that isolation is somehow safer than other people. Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old boy, was shot in the head for ringing the doorbell at the wrong house. Kaylin Gillis, a 20-year-old young woman, was shot and killed for being a passenger in car that went up the wrong driveway. Two cheerleaders were shot in a grocery store parking lot when one of them accidentally got into the wrong car. These “wrong place” stories took the news by storm, but they are not unique, stories like this happen almost every day across the country.
The world is a scary place. In the United States there are more guns than people. Over the last two decades mass shootings have terrified us. At the same time, we’ve become more and more culturally and politically polarized. And the rhetoric of these culture wars and this political strife is driving us further apart and making us more afraid of one another. Social media has changed the way we think of human interaction. It has made us more connected, but it has also made us WAY more toxic. And the data shows that Americans have fewer friends, belong to fewer community groups that meet in person, spend less time with family and friends, and go out of the house into public for work, for entertainment, and for shopping less often than ever before. And this trend was happening decades before the pandemic separated us even further.
When the world goes kind of crazy we might just want to get away from everyone. We might want to buy a few more guns. It might feel safer to isolate ourselves in a bunker. I think it’s normal to feel that way. But isolation, it turns out, is a symptom of and not a solution to our cultural problems. And this I believe with all my heart—isolation makes all of us LESS SAFE than community and cooperation. You are LESS SAFE when you are alone than when you have a community. You are MORE DANGEROUS to innocent people when you are alone than when you have a community.
So, Friendship Sunday is not just a gimmick to get you to come to church. It’s a gimmick to hopefully connect you to people who truly love and care about you. Because we fundamentally believe as a church that your friendship makes our lives and our world a better place. We believe that what was good for the early Church (as we read in the Acts of the Apostles) is also good for us today—spending time together, worshiping together, getting to know one another deeply, learning about one another’s needs, and providing for those needs, sitting down and eating meals together, praying together—holding all things in common. Friendship is a Christian value and is a value that we need now more than ever.
Over Lent I reread Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Ware was a hospice nurse and she found that there were certain regrets that came up over and over again in her dying patients’ final days. One of the top five regrets was “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” It’s sometimes friends that someone lost touch with decades and decades ago that they most want to see with when they’re dying. Let this be a lesson for all of us who are not yet dying—do not undervalue the power and the importance of your friendships. It doesn’t matter if it’s been 50 years or more. Reach out to that old friend. This is one thing that Facebook is good for—finding old friends. Old friends are a part of your soul. Reconnect to them and you will give yourself (and them) spiritual healing. In the end, says Ware, it all comes own to love and relationships. Yes, people might want to try to get the will in order, fix up the finances, get this or that detail wrapped up, but in those final weeks all that is really left is love and relationships.
Friendship is a fundamental Christian value. In a time of mistrust and violence in our culture, friendship is the value which can bring us back into healthy relationships with all our neighbors. Friendships are a part of our very souls. And in the end friendship, love, relationship is all we really have. So, friends (old and new!) thank you for being here at our first annual Friendship Sunday, we love you, we appreciate you, you are a part of us, and we’re here for you.
Jesus the Imagination
Thoughts and dreams, musings and meditations