Vicar's Letter for July

Vicar’s Letter: July 2015

 

How to Develop Great Friendships

 

Dear Friends

One of the joys for me of our recent weekend away at Cefn Lea was seeing new friendships develop within our church family. By wearing name badges, sharing meals together and serving one another we were able to meet new people and get to know others better.

This is what our weekend away together was all about:

growing friendships with one another and growing our friendship with God.

Combating loneliness

It is true that sometimes our journey through life can feel quite lonely. Even when we are part of a church, you might wonder if you have any true friends who will care for you when things are not so great. This weekend away was to address and encourage friendship making and enable friendships to flourish. Such friendships can be an anchor that holds us fast through the most stormy seasons of life. They encourage us in our faith, celebrate with us in our joys and stand with us in our sorrows. Such friendship is priceless.

John Donne famously penned the lines:

 ‘No man is an island entire of itself; everyman is of the continent a part of the main’, meaning we are created for community, for belonging, for mutual caring, for friendship both with God (Genesis 3:8) and with one another (Genesis 2:18).

Do you have growing and flourishing friendships?

C.S Lewis writes: ‘Friendship is the crown of life and school of virtue’. Friendship multiplies joy and divides sorrow.

A good Investment

Friendships don’t just happen they need an investment; an investment of time, energy, self giving, generosity, kindness and hospitality. We have to give as well as receive.

Dale Carnegiewrites: ‘You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you’.

The scourge of loneliness

Loneliness is endemic in our society today. More people live alone than at any other time in our recorded social history. Research has discovered that whilst people have a very large number of ‘friends’ on social media, there is an increasing sense of loneliness. Whilst there is nothing wrong with social media, it cannot take the place of real face to face friendships.

Loneliness was the experience of the Samaritan woman whom Jesus encountered at Jacob’s well (John 4). Her circumstances and life choices had caused her to be shunned by her community, isolated in her home and village. Her encounter with Jesus changed everything. He made it easy for her to admit failure by promising her a better way of life where she could enjoy his forgiveness. Sometimes our own sense of loneliness can be our own fault. Perhaps we have not been honest with ourselves and admitted our own failure and wrong choices. Perhaps we have not been honest with God and admitted where we have fallen short of his ways. We have locked ourselves out of the joy of flourishing friendships with one another and with God.

The Good News

‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him.’ (John 3:17). It is as we admit our shortcomings and repent of them that we can be restored in our friendships with one another and with God.

Developing strong friendships is God’s intention for us. Whilst marriage is part of the solution to aloneness, Jesus demonstrated that it is not the only solution. He set an example of a close friendship with men and women. In one respect, friendship is even more important than marriage: marriage is temporary, friendship is eternal.

Growing strong Friendships

Mother Theresa said, ‘I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot: together we can do great things’.

Friends, lets resolve to build strong friendships – with one another and with God, being honest about our shortcomings and failure and receiving the forgiveness that sets us free. Lets use the opportunities of summer to enjoy some great social occasions: BBQs, walks, picnics etc to share life, so that we are not alone on our journey but are encouraged by those who journey with us.

Every Blessing in Christ,

                                    Stephen