I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. John 15:15 (NRSV)
In 1980 Paula Ripple, an American Catholic nun and spiritual leader, published a beautiful book entitled Called to be Friends. That is the year I graduated from seminary and was ordained, and that is a book whose message lives on in me today. There are many ways of describing what it means to live a Christian life, but one of the simplest—and at the same time, most profound—is to say that we are called to be friends to one another.
Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John is full of admonitions from Jesus to his disciples to abide in God’s love and love one another: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (v. 9). “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (v. 12). “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another” (v. 17).
What does it mean to love one another? It means many different things, but I’m happy to start with this: we are called to be friends to one another. In a world of social distancing caused by a global pandemic, it may take a little extra creativity, but we can do it! We can send texts and e-cards and old-fashioned cards and letters. We can “see” each other in visits via new technologies and hear each other through old-fashioned telephone calls. We can check on those who are most vulnerable and deliver groceries or medication to those who cannot leave their homes to get these necessities. We can make masks and drop them off at church to be sent to those who need them. We can listen carefully to others’ hopes and fears; we can share honestly our own. We can pray without ceasing for one another.
Henry David Thoreau put it this way, “The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.”
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
Today let us focus our prayer on those who live alone:
Triune God, Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Spirit: You created us to live in community with you and one another. Empower us to fully embrace in heart and mind and deed those who live alone—so that they may feel the depth of your love and the breadth of others’ love lifting them up and sustaining them each and every day. Amen.
*Photo Credit: Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing at the Naples Botanical Garden