Welcome to Friendship Sunday!
Okay. I’ll be the first one to say it. I love Friendship Sunday! I love it for several reasons. First, we come together in this place under the grand and marvelous theme of Friendship! Of course, we gather together as friends every Sunday in church, but, today, on Friendship Sunday, we take a special and intentional opportunity to lift high the theme of Friendship. We’re going to celebrate friendship. We’re going to sing about friendship. We’re going to pray for our friendships. I hope that you will not leave this place today without having at least a few good hugs of friendship!
Second, I love Friendship Sunday because it gives us an opportunity to turn to God’s word and learn about the nature, essence, and qualities of good friendship. This morning, we’re going to learn from The Teacher, Ecclesiastes, King Solomon himself, in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. I hope that today the Lord will give us all a better understanding and appreciation of good friendship.
Third, I love Friendship Sunday because that means it’s covered dish Sunday! There’s a middle-eastern saying, “People will never be friends unless they share a meal together.” The early disciples regularly had what has been called “agape’ meals,” or “Love Feasts.” Our Love Feast today brings the Holy Spirit among us and sweetens our time together. He helps us fill our hearts with conversations and laughter among friends and our stomachs will an incredible assortment of delicious delectables! I hope you will come and enjoy the meal that is waiting for us right now over in the Fellowship Hall! It doesn’t matter if you didn’t bring anything. There is always plenty!
It’s not only great having a few friends. We can even say good friendship is essential to having a whole, balanced, and satisfying life. Like many of you, I have always loved the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the end of that movie and not either cried or suppressed a waterfall of tears! In the story, George learns one of life’s greatest lessons. At the end of the story, with the law after him for misplacing an $8,000 deposit (way to go Uncle Billy), George is standing in his living room beside the family Christmas tree holding his daughter Zuzu. Friends bearing cash come to his rescue to keep him from going to jail. On the table filled with dollars bills, coins, even jewelry people donated for the cause, George finds a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with this inscription from Clarence Odbody, his guardian angel: “Dear George: Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence.” Immediately, a bell on the Christmas tree jingles and his daughter Zuzu says, “Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” Tears filling his eyes, George says to Zuzu, “That’s right! That’s right!”
Let’s open our hearts this morning and share God’s Great Spirit of Friendship with each other! I’ll see you at the Love Feast!
Your Pastor and Friend, Mark