Published by the Rains County Leader on April 10, 2018:
Friendship is not easily defined. The dictionary says a friend is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, but friendship is more than that. During the ten years when I was single again, I met Mary one night at choir practice. Before the night was over, we had discovered that we were both raised in small towns in west Texas, we were both single after twenty-three years of marriage, and we both had one child. We had so much in common that we sometimes wondered if I had been switched at birth with her twin sister. We were and still are fast friends. Friendships are often based on common grounds, but sometimes it takes some investigation to discover those grounds.
Ten years ago I read a book titled Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It’s not unusual for two friends to write a book together, but Ron was a millionaire art dealer, and Denver was a former victim of modern-day slavery who escaped only to end up living on the streets of Dallas and Fort Worth. Their common ground was Deborah, Ron’s wife whose passion was helping the homeless, and their heart-warming story is well worth reading.
Since David and I have switched from satellite TV to streaming, we’ve watched a lot of YouTube posts. This past weekend, we watched a lot of animal videos. We laughed hysterically at cats who jumped in the air and turned flips after unexpectedly encountering a cucumber on the floor or kittens whose curiosity left them with their heads stuck in a bag or box. My favorites, though, were the ones that showed unusual friendships. Cats and dogs played or napped together, a kitten lay on its back covered with dozens of fuzzy yellow chicks, a momma cat cleaned a bunny – and all without snarling, snapping, or growling. It’s hard to know what common ground brought these critters together, but even if it’s just a common owner, it’s a beautiful model of peaceful coexistence.
Easter weekend is one of my favorite times of year, mostly because of the Resurrection that we celebrate, but also because of the friendly holiday traditions that have developed among some of the local churches. Twenty years ago, W.R. Byrd, Pastor of Prairie Grove Missionary Baptist Church, suggested to several Rains County churches that they meet together on Resurrection Sunday for a Sunrise Service. I don’t know the details, but twenty years later, four area churches still gather each year for worship and breakfast. Each church hosts the service on a rotating basis, and it’s fascinating to see how each congregation differs.
This year we met at Prairie Grove, and as always, there were smiles, handshakes, and many warm hugs among friends who worship together only once or twice a year. As Reverend Byrd welcomed members and guests alike, he reminisced a bit about the past twenty years, and then he mentioned some of our differences. We are from different denominations and traditions, our music and styles of worship are different, we are even from different ethnic backgrounds – but, he went on to say, “the Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you.” What better common ground could there be in a friendship?
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
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