Rev Robert A Wendel
“A friend is a loving companion at all times and a brother born to share your troubles. He who conceals another’s offense seeks his Goodwin. The Lord watches over the way of the righteous.” (Proverbs 17:17-18, 9, Psalm 1:6 NEB).
Building up and maintaining relations is what really matters over the holidays and as the years go by. During the winter merriment, our drive to please folks with gifts should not crowd out recognizing that we have been surrounded by people who have made an impression on our lives and reaching out to hem – connecting in appreciation.
In July, I read “Make Your Bed”, a brief personal account of his life as a Navy SEAL by Retired Admiral William H. Craven. During training in a parachute jump gone wrong, Craven broke his pelvis. As he slowly physically recovered, his wife cared for him and reminded him “who he was.”
Friends came by the house. Each shared a faith that he would, indeed, rebound. Many of his Navy pals could see his future positional. Craven said “I never forgot those people. Anything I have achieved in my life was the result of others who have helped me along the way.”
Everybody knows the fictional moving of George Bailey, manager of a small Building and Loan in Bedford Falls who contemplates jumping off a bridge just before Christmas because $8,000 of the depositors’ money had been misplaced by Uncle Billy on the way to the bank.
George is rescued by Clarence, a wingless angel, and shown how necessary his life has been to his neighbors who, in gratitude for his faithfulness, “saved the day” because George has truly had A Wonderful Life.
Isaiah described this kind of friendship as one that pleases God because it comes to the aid of someone in anguish saying “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted sol, then your light shall dawn in the darkness.” (Isaiah 58:10 NKJV). True religion cannot be separated from compassion and a conviction for social justice.
This December, make an honest effort to acknowledge folks who have made your life fun. Director Frank Capra ended the 1946 film with George holding a copy of Huckleberry Fin from Clarence with the note “No man is a failure who has friends.”
Bonhoeffer prayed, “Lord, give our frightened souls again salvation and thy promises fulfilled. If it be thy will again, give joy to this world. Bring us together in the light the Savior brings.”
I have just received my annual Christmas check from the American Baptist Churches and I encourage you to contribute to the Retired Ministers & Missionaries offering in December.