No Ship like Friendship

You can’t choose your family.
But you can choose your friends.
To have a friend first you must be a friend.
The best antique is an old friend.

*****

This month of April follows a very “abundant” month of March. Last month, we journeyed through five weeks of Lent. We honored Palm Sunday. We celebrated eight young people in their Confirmation of Faith. We wandered through the painful choices and the more painful consequences of Holy Week. We gathered around a table of the Last Supper. We hammered nails into a wooden cross. We carried the broken body of a Savior into a borrowed tomb. We waited three days. We looked into the tomb and discovered…it was empty. We commemorated the resurrection of a once-dead-now-alive Savior.

The month of March was an abundant month.

This month of April, too, is abundant with opportunity. In this month, we celebrate friendship in a unique manner. The third Sunday of this month, April 21, is “Bring-A-Friend Sunday” at The United Church of Warsaw. On this Sunday, members of The United Church are urged and encouraged to share the gift of their church with their friends.

But first, I offer thoughts and reflections on the gift of friendship.

*****

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
Aristotle

Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God’ s best gifts. In involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one’ s self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another .
Thomas Hughes

If you do not make new acquaintances as you advance through life, you will soon find yourself left alone. You should keep your friendships in constant repair.
Samuel Johnson

Real friends are those who, when you’ve made a fool of yourself, don’t feel that you’ve done a permanent job.
E. C. McKenzie

The glory of friendship is not the out-stretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companion- ship. It is the spiritual inspiration that comes to you when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with her/his friendship. My friends have come unsought. The great God gave them to me.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.

Anonymous

Insomuch as any one pushes you nearer to God, she or he is your friend.
English Proverb

*****

In the book, Ten Steps for Church Growth, co-author Winfield C. Arn interviewed 4000 people who recently joined various faith communities to determine why they came to church and why they stayed connected to a congregation. Here are his findings:

6 to 8 percent just walked in 2 to 3 percent came through church programs 8 to 12 percent were attracted by the pastor 3 to 4 percent came out of a special need 1 to 2 percent were visited by church members 3 to 4 percent came through a Sunday School class 66 to 77 percent were invited by relatives or friends

These statistics affirm and confirm the effectiveness of “simply” inviting one’s friends to church…if one seeks to enable one’s church to grow.

Proverbs 17:17 observes: A friend loves at all times. Why not show your love for a friend by inviting that friend to your faith community where you yourself are loved? In John 15:15, Jesus is recorded as saying these words to his followers: I have called you friends because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.

Why not call your friends and invite them to the faith community where you yourself hear the voice of your Father God/Creator God?

Bring-A-Friend Sunday at The United Church is April 21, at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary. Why not come…and bring a friend?

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara