We are looking at how we do friendship with David Runcorn this morning. How do we connect with one another against the backdrop of this highly sexualised culture that we live in? The Church often hits the media for its reflection on sexaul issues. It speaks against and into our highly sexualised culture.
As usual I am spinning off from this with much of my own thinking.
We are looking at something fundamental - friendship is a basic human need.
We live in a particular place if we live in this community (St John's)- we might need to have a very strong hold on how transitional this place is. We are passing through. We are passing through, more fundamentally too. I think sometimes in some of our friendships we are also passing through. There is a need there and we might be called away at anytime, after all God can not be depleted but we can. How do we cope with change and which friendships will sustain us and remain? Which have a longevity? Are they always supposed to have longevity?
How will we sustain friendships in first post?
We will all seek different things from our friendships. We spend some time thinking about what makes a good friend.
On whom do we project our friendship ideals? We are connecting particularly with social networking and chat rooms and yet perhaps we are more isolated than we ever were.
David tells us how Tim Lot has explored friendship in 'White City Blue'.
David tells us that if we google 'loneliness' there are 9.5 million sites in .28 seconds.
Nouwen has explored friendship and loneliness.Ourselves, others, God - how we relate and to whom. How do we journey from loneliness to solitude, from hostility to hospitality and from illusion to God?
What does friendship look like? We can stand guard over each other's space. We can allow each other to be free. I think my marriage has changed in this regard from something possessive in which our very identities were bound up with one another to something, where by grace, and we have a long way to go yet, we are guarding each other's space. We do not have to be at the centre of the other's space to demonstrate love. In fact, it is often in the relinquishing of our place at the centre that we love one another.
Currently, I am protective of my husband's football commitments. There is nothing shallow about the needs that are being met in this space. He plays three evenings a week and God is honouring our choice to have this be an event in the week. This is a place of physical exercise, a release of endorphins, it is a place of self-esteem, my husband plays a good game. More importantly, it is a place of bonding. The game is brought before God, sealed in prayer. He plays for college. It is working as a space for outreach as some of his friends come along to play too. It is a place of revelation and growth for those who come and play football with people about whom they have developed prejudice which is being broken down. One of the friends invited is starting to understand now that this God whom we worship, whom he doesn't yet know, is interested even in the way that he plays football. Football can be played to the glory of God.
My husband is protective of my fellowship and worshipping spaces. He understands my commitment to friendships that I also run virtually through blogging and social networking. From a much more secure space now than when we were first married because we are Christian brother and sister as well as man and wife and this brings a new dimension into your relationship, he wants for me to thrive and connect in these spaces and have time to explore them and so there is a freedom like there never was before.
Only God can fulfil our deepest longings for unity, not husbands, wives or friends and yet he gives us this, is this because our union with God is not complete either until the eschaton? (My own thoughts).
If we look at Genesis, it is not good for the earth creature to be alone - remember the androgyny - Adam is not man until Eve is woman and he understands his difference.
I have been exploring this ache and the sense of frustrated incompletion. We are bewildered and also complemented by each other's difference. Look at Adam's desire for something that complements him which is not fulfilled by any of the animals. When he realises what he doesn't want, God gives him Eve after a deep sleep.
Who are the lonely? Not something or someone out there. It is personal. Humanity is driven by a desire to satisfy this ache. Where does wholeness come from - it is in reaching out but it is not without risk. It makes us vulnerable. Adam and Eve will hide from each other and God. We live in this world which is not what we want it to be. We seek to be reconciled to this feeling of incompletion but is that again looking for a wholeness that will not be granted here on earth. I am sure, we will feel this tension for the whole of our earthly lives. It is an open wound, I feel, and sometimes it is swathed in ointment and cloth and sometimes the cloth becomes frayed and the cold air gets in.
So in our communities
- Counteracting the idealism - the Christian ideal of wholeness and unity which is actually so ephemeral.
- We need to enter the struggle together and be real about it.
- How do we navigate friendship within ministry?
- We will have multiple roles.
David Runcorn finishes by showing us a fab video of a guy called Matt Harding who dances against many famous backdrops of the countries he has visited in the world. For me, it conveys the amazing sense of connection and yet difference - for when the corporate dance is over, we return to dancing on our own! Interestingly, for my own sense of what I understand about myself, a deep longing for the corporate, I sense the joy far more of the corporate dance than the dance Matt dances on his own. Have you ever even felt jealous of the perichoretic unity of the Godhead? I have. God is never alone - Father, Son and Holy Spirit and yet isn't it interesting that he should desire to make us - so what does that say about God - incomplete in his completion! Always hoping that we too would be in greater union with him.