Thought for the Day by Clive Barrett from St Michael’s:
The Church blesses one particular relationship – marriage – which in Common Worship (not in the BCP!) includes companionship. But friendship is far broader than this specific two-person relationship. Naïvely, I’ve long thought the Church should have a liturgy for friendship. I imagine a service celebrating any close, lasting relationships, irrespective of genders or sexualities or numbers of people involved, admitting shared past stories and anticipating continuing future closeness. It could apply to any shape or nature of friendship, from school reunion groups to a single, special, beloved friend.
Jonathan and David, 1 Samuel 20, had a special friendship. Their love surpassed the wrath of Jonathan’s father, and saved David’s life.
A 12th century Yorkshire saint, Aelred of Rievaulx, was big on friendship. He developed Cicero’s De Amicitia into his own Spiritual Friendship, where [3.92-6] he argues,
Jonathan was found to be a victor over [human] nature, a despiser of glory and of power, one who preferred the honour of his friend to his own, saying, “You shall be king, and I shall be next after you.” This is true, perfect, constant and eternal friendship that envy does not corrupt nor suspicions diminish nor ambition dissolve… Therefore, “go and do you in like manner.”
There are caveats, though, in Acts 1. Friendships can end; remember Judas. And special friendships can exclude others. In verses 13-14 (yesterday) Luke listed Jesus’s male friends – disciples – only tacking on as an afterthought some unnamed women, Mary, random family members.
Whom do you relegate to afterthoughts, in your prayers and actions?
Pray for people who feel friendless, lonely.
Pray for people who used to be your friends.
Thank God for friends who remember to include you.
Which relationships do you celebrate?
What friendships are or have been important to you?
Thank God for friends.