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Tidings from Bethlehem


4/28/2021 by Rev. Daniel Smail


Figuring Out Friendship “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” John 15:15 As I prepare for worship, I often take a moment to look at the hymns that have been chosen for the day. And when I see “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in the cue I am delighted. I know the hymn has been around since the 1800’s, but there really is something about the lyrics that are timeless, evocative. It starts off, “What a friend we have in Jesus,” and then goes on to detail why that friendship is so valuable, “all our sins and griefs to be bear.” The willingness to “bear” our sins is a sure sign of meaningful friendship. And the hymn continues, “what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” Here is another impressive aspect of our friendship with Christ worth consideration. This Lord of ours, who is also our friend, shares in the most significant burdens of this life. The misgivings, the grief… while we contend with these challenges and the isolation they can bring, we know we are not carrying the load alone. There is the One who has come alongside us and continues to journey with us. This spiritual reality has not been imagined by the hymnwriter, but we learn from scripture this has always been Christ’s intention. And then, there is this other thing. We really are privileged. Think about this with me for a second. When I wake in the middle of the night, anxious about the day ahead, I confess… the first thing I do is pray. My day begins with prayer. I pray at different points throughout the day. Never once, not one single time did I ever think, “wait, I should hold off, maybe Jesus is busy at the moment.” Oh no, at a moment’s notice that gracious listening ear is present to attend to our every concern and request. The hymn captures it beautifully: the temptations, our human weakness, all of this, we, “take it to the Lord in prayer.” And what happens when we lay all this vulnerability at the feet our Savior? There is no frustration, there are no gasps of exasperation. Instead, we discover open arms. How does the hymn put it, “Precious Savior, still our refuge.” And then, “In his arms he’ll take and shield you; you will find solace there.” Solace: comfort, consolation, and relief. There is a sense of safety and security that comes with going to this friend of ours. We know being Jesus is an impossibility. But thinking a little more deeply about the role of friendship in our lives and finding creative ways to have our most important friendships resemble the one Christ has modeled for us, might profoundly improve the quality of our lives. So, there you have it friends, that is it for this month. God bless you! Yours in Christ, Pastor Dan

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