Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Dear Linwood Family and Friends,
This is the third of the “Big Three” of Linwood – both past and present. Faith, family, and friendships are our focus for the year. I touched on faith and family in the past two e-mails (meaning, of course, that we hope to be diving in deeper in the coming months and during the 2014 season).
These three offer some fascinating contrasts.
Faith is a gift of grace that we receive when God offers Himself to us. Our faith is in Him. Without Him faith has little meaning and value.
Family is largely provided for us. While we may choose our spouse (there are cultures where a spouse is also provided, not chosen!), we do not choose our children or our parents, or our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on.
Friends, on the other hand, are usually of our choosing. That makes friendships different kind of relationships.
Let me ask a few questions, and then offer a few random thoughts. How many friends do you have? How deep are those friendships? How long have they been friends?
• Do you have a “best friend”? What for you makes them a “best friend”? How important were your friends when you were growing up? Did you have a “best friend” as a teenager?
• Have you ever had a falling out with a “good friend” or a “best friend”? Was there ever reconciliation?
• Is there anything different about your friendships at Linwood?
• In terms of friendships, would you say that you are content or even fulfilled? Or, are you lonely and longing for more?
Don’t worry, you do not have to submit your answers! However, it is occasionally good to pause and think about our relationships beyond our families.
The Bible places an extremely high value on families, but it also talks a great deal about the importance (as well as the pitfalls) of friendships: For instance:
“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” – Proverbs 17:17 (The Message)
“Friends come and go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” – Proverbs 18:24 (The Message)
“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” – John 15:12-13 (The Message)
Isn’t it fascinating that when Jesus describes “the best way to love,” He talks about the willingness to give your life for your friends?
A few random thoughts:
- Two of my favorite TV shows of yesteryear were “Cheers” and “Friends.”
- One of my mentors in ministry told me “Never make friends with members of your congregation.” I understand why he said that, but I chose not to follow it.
- I have never been one who has had a lot of good friends, but instead I have had a few especially good friends.
- My best friend, Nelson Callahan, a Roman Catholic priest, passed away a year ago. We had met together every week for almost thirty years. I can’t imagine how I could ever have another friendship like that.
- When I see couples and families at Linwood who have had deep friendships with other couples and families extending over decades, I am envious. Those relationships have not been a part of my experience.
- What is it about Linwood that encourages friendships – something not always found in other places? What can we all learn from it?
That’s plenty for now – but there will be more to come as we continue to think about “Faith, Family, and Friendships.”
The 2014 season is now closer than it has ever been!
Blessings in Christ,
Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor
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