Monday, December 20, 2010

A Very Common Christmas

There we were, about 40 of us caroling in the neighborhoods around THCC.  It was cold but not miserable, we were crowded on the back of two trailers, but not unhappy.  In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable nights hanging out with friends I have enjoyed in many a night!

Just a bunch of people who less than a year ago didn't know each other, who didn't know what being a family in Christ meant, and who probably never ventured into each others circles.  Some of these folks are people of means, others are not.  Some have had success in life, others feel like LIFE has been a two ton dump truck that has unloaded on them. Yet, here we were together, truly fellowshiping with each other, having a blast singing carols in front of strangers homes, and spending time in a few of our friends houses who let us traipse in to warm up and drink something warm and enjoy their hospitality.

I have been together at times and in other settings with folks and have not experienced such fellowship.  In fact, I have been among much more powerful people in my day and felt completely left out.  This was not a group of 40 people broken down into 5 -6 cliques of separate people who were occupying the same space.  We were all together enjoying each other, enjoying singing familiar songs which proclaim great Truth, invading each others homes, and doing something as simply as wishing our neighbors a Merry Christmas.  And yet, it was a profound experience as successful business men fellowshiped with common laborers, as people who've been on the inside of church welcomed those who've looked in to church from a distance most of their lives.

Our plans weren't earth shatteringly innovative, we weren't a part of something elaborate and noteworthy, we were just walking the streets of our neighborhoods singing and being a family.  It was a very common thing to do. It was done in a very common way.  Yet the impact was holy.  Yeah, I said it holy!

It's been a long time since I've since true friendship, real companionship, genuine love expressed together. It seemed to be the outgrowth of a fellowship that is color blind, socially amnesic, and blessed.

To you the family of The Harbor I want to say I love you from the depths of my soul and I wish you are a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Friends, no not the show, well sort of, maybe?

Many of us wasted many moments of our lives watching the TV show Friends.  The premise of the show was the day to day lives of a group of friends.  There wasn't much plot other than that it seemed.  Somehow, this became compelling TV for many years.

What was so compelling about this show? Superb acting? Really! Great plot lines?  They really were quite predictable were they not? The sexual tension between the friends acted out in a confusing circular process? Somebody among the writing crew was committed to pushing some perceived social envelope if you ask me.

I think the ingredient that kept us all tuning in each week was the dynamic of friendship.  Friendship is often a missing ingredient in our lives. Some of us have had just enough friendship to make is yearn for more.  Others, feel like they've been on the outside of the friendship store looking in their whole lives. If you've been blessed with real friendships no one has to tell you how blessed you genuinely are.

Last week during a trip to OK to visit family, Pam and I had the opportunity to reconnect with some of the friends of my youth.  I had not seen some of these friends since our wedding in 1982.  One of these friends played host to the gathering. The one thing I noticed when we arrived was that everyone had gotten old!  How did that happen?  Of course there was that one friend who still had all of his hair and it was still the color it was in High School and he still wreaked of Polo Cologne.

We shared a meal, talked laughed, cried a little, played amateur philosopher, but mostly we just soaked up each others presence.  These were the friends of my youth - the people who were there to watch all the awkward junk as one goes through puberty, that first girlfriend, the first really stupid choice in a line of not so bright choices. Through it all they were and are friends, while they may have brought a word of correction punctuated with the occasional, "Ronnie, what have you done now!", they were never judgmental and often risked their own reputations and security to be there for me.

 I am blessed and thankful for the friends of my youth for they taught me the value of friendship, how to be a friend and the importance of developing friends throughout my life.  Jonathon said of David, "There is a friendship that is closer than a brother."  To that I can only say, Ditto!