Vicar's Letter - August 2019

        We’ve just come back from London after picking my daughter up from University.  She’s finished her third year and so begins a marathon summer holiday – she’s just got to have passed her exams.  I think she goes back to university sometime in September!

I envy her this break.  That’s not because of the three months or so she’s going to have ‘off work’ and be away from responsibilities.  It’s because of the quality time she’s going to be able to spend with friends.  Her summer holiday will remind me of the ones I spent in the company of close friends doing all kinds of adventurous and wonderful things!

I sometimes ponder those friendships now.   Some I lament – I thought that they would always be there, but they are now nowhere to be seen.  Some close ties came undone due to conflict.  The flame of friendship faded with others because our bond couldn’t stretch the geographical distance between us.

Sometimes there’s a sudden ending.  Jesus knew that pain of disappearing friendship.  Mark’s Gospel gives a stark indictment about his band of brothers; ‘Then everyone deserted him and fled’.  They vanished into thin air.

Friends make us better.  We drink deep from joy’s well when laughter is shared.  A fabulous experience is so much better when we can turn to a friend and say, ‘Isn’t this great?’  Friends tell us what we don’t know and, if their friendship is deep, they tell us what we really don’t want to know.  They shape us even as they disappoint, because there’s no perfect fit in friendship, and to think otherwise is naive.  Friendship comforts, but also confronts our selfishness.  And friendship calls us to faithfulness, to hang in there and stick close – whether we feel like it or not.

With all this in mind how amazing it is to consider that Jesus says to us, ‘I no longer call you servants... I call you friends.’  This summer, like my daughter, take the time to enjoy friends – because  a true friend is a treasure, and loneliness is literally punishing.

Simon Newham