We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

“Friendship Is at the Heart of the Gospel”- Easter 6, Trinity NY

In our scripture reading for Sunday, Jesus makes a bold pronouncement: “I have called you friends.” Here, Jesus makes a claim of intimacy with his followers. Those who love him are not indebted to him or under his thumb, rather Jesus invites us into a mutual relationship, one that will “bear fruit that will last.”

But what does this mean? Since Jesus is God incarnate in the world, we might wonder how we, mere humans, can be in a mutual relationship with the God of the universe, who knows and see all things.

In the Hebrew scriptures, God calls Abraham, the father of our faith, “my friend” (Isaiah 41:8). Like all healthy friendships, though, Abraham’s relationship with God has its ups and downs. Abraham has to wait a long time for his prayers to be answered (Genesis 12–21), he has to have faith even when God’s commands seem paradoxical, and he even negotiates with God (Genesis 18), asking God to change God’s mind. This is a real relationship, forged in real time — a friendship suffused with both tenderness and obligation.

The friendship God offers us in Jesus is no different. It implies responsibilities and honesty. When we love our friends, we tell them the truth — even when it is difficult. We stand up for them when others abandon them and hash it out when disagreements arise. We listen with curiosity and compassion instead of jumping to fix a problem. In a long-term friendship, we can pick up a conversation right where we left off, even if we have not spoken in a while.

Jesus implies the friendship he is offering is not transactional, but it does come with obligations. Just as Jesus makes sacrifices for his followers out of love, so must we be willing to “lay down our lives for our friends.” While we tend to think Jesus is speaking here of his own great sacrifice — and this is certainly true — it is also implicit that the kind of friendship Jesus presupposes includes everyday relinquishments. You see the movie your friend wants to see, you listen as they talk through the latest drama in their lives, you pick them up from the hospital, you text to see how they are doing.

Jesus, who is in very nature God, also checks in on us, exhibits patience when we flounder, and loves us despite our idiosyncrasies. Friendship with God implies we love others as God has loved us. This is what it means to “bear fruit” in the world, as we walk beside God in deep companionship.”

From “God in All things”

“… I believe what Christ is trying to tell us is that friendship is the unspoken commitment of two people who recognize each other’s vulnerable, imperfect humanity and choose to love anyway. Jesus commands us to love each other as he loved us because he continued loving the world amidst rejection, sin, and death. He laid down his life to show us that the bond of friendship is at its strongest when we pour ourselves out to another. When we give of ourselves to each other, we glimpse into the eternal love that Christ promises us through his life, ministry, death, and resurrection.

“This understanding of friendship creates friends who, like Jesus and the apostles, are unafraid to continue loving and challenging us. These friends will always reach out to us in our happiness and our sadness. These types of friends will always be there to take us down from our cross and lay us to rest, and wait for us to rise to new life, even if they don’t always believe it’s going to happen. And these friends will continue to believe in us, long after we have moved on from this world.”