Friendship - friends holding their hands up in the air together.
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Sermon – Friendship


Sermon Preached by Reverend Stuart Langshaw on Sunday, 17 March 2024.

In light of the fact that we have the Annual Vestry Meeting after the service this morning, this will be a briefer than usual sermon … maybe not even a sermon as such, but some thoughts about friendship.

The stained-glass windows here at St Andrew’s are really glorious – in their design, in their colours and in their variety. Last year I preached about the “Fortitude” window on the pulpit side of the church. At the back of the nave, on the prayer desk and organ side of the church, are two windows that have the theme of friendship and commitment to each other. One window with utterly fabulous colours shows Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament book of Ruth, and the other shows the two young men David and Jonathan from the book I Samuel in the Old Testament.

Both these twosomes are stunning examples of friendship and commitment.

Readers Digest version of Ruth and Naomi – – – Naomi and her husband and two sons went from Israel to the land of Moab. The two sons married Moabite girls, Ruth and Orpah. Naomi’s husband and her two sons died in Moab. After 10 years the 3 women set off to return to Israel. Naomi, wanting to be fair to her daughters-in-law, pleaded with them to stay among their own people in Moab. Orpah did so. Ruth stayed with Naomi, and uttered the famous words, “Where you go, I will go; where you live, I will live; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried….” (Ruth 1:16, 17). So Ruth stayed, ultimately was married by Boaz, and even more ultimately became an ancestor of the famous King David.

Readers Digest version of David and Jonathan. David, having proved himself after killing Goliath, became a member of the court of the mentally unstable King Saul, and calmed the king’s moods by playing the harp. He and the king’s son Jonathan became good buddies, and this developed into a deep friendship as they grew to be young men. King Saul’s suspicions of David became stronger as David proved his leadership skills and strategy on the battlefield – and those royal suspicions developed into paranoia. Jonathan warned David when the king’s paranoia turned into violent plottings against the life of the national hero. Jonathan and his father King Saul were killed in battle and David’s words of mourning have become famous. 2 Samuel chapter 1 . “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions … I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your friendship to me was wonderful, passing the friendship of women.”

There are other great friendships in the Bible, but these two have stained-glass windows here in St Andrew’s.

One of the side-benefits of belonging to a group such as a church congregation is that we develop friendships. For example, yesterday was the monthly gathering of the women’s breakfast group, and there are significant friendships among the members of that lot of ladies … meeting in fellowship and hunger (!!) in a social gathering. A week ago we had the working bee in the Choir vestry here, and we had a group of people working in friendship and perspiration together on a project for the good of the whole church.¬ Some of us have known each other for, well, decades, and over those years we have shared our stories, and our time, and our thoughts, and our interests. There are people here who are “as thick as thieves” as they say. Friendship is shown in being introduced to someone, developing interest in each other … and then in genuine care … and in true support when things get tough – and in almost uncontrollable hilarity.

Christian friends, non-Christian friends …. church friends, non-church friends … family friends, non-family friends … friends though shared interests … friends through shared experiences ..,. friends through shared difficult times. Perhaps you can sneak a sidelong look around you this morning to see those people who you count as your friends here at St Andrew’s.

Friends are a great treasure in our lives, and our Vestry Meeting this morning will be a time when we share the business life of our church with our friends, and make decisions together that will advance our life and friendship together. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this, that someone lays down their life for their friends.” (John 15:12, 13)

I like the saying that says, “Real friends never have to tell you they’re your friends.” And the saying that says “Friends are medicine for a wounded heart and vitamins for a hopeful soul.”

Do look at our stained-glass windows – do look at Ruth and Naomi, and at David and Jonathan, remember the theme of friendship portrayed there, and thank God for your friends.