Monday, April 14, 2014

Time with a Friend

It's Monday of the busiest week of the year. There are many books I planned to have read by now and others I downloaded just last night. I intended to have at least one of the three sermons to be preached this week written by now but still have blank screens staring me in the eye. And I cannot get any further - at least not at the moment. I have been stopped in my tracks by the morning devotional and invitation to spend time with my friend, Jesus.

My friend, Jesus.

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus" is the only hymn I can play on the piano without music. The words of the song are ingrained in my head as my grandmother and mother used to regularly sing the familiar tune. But if the truth were told, it's not often that I think of Jesus as my friend.

Today's devotional reading took me to the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Lazarus is the one who was in the tomb for four days until Jesus came and called him out. Imagine being at that dinner party, sitting across the table and breaking bread with this man who has come back to life. One would think that his sisters, Mary and Martha, would be reluctant to leave his side. I can imagine them to be tempted to write down every word so they could make a million telling the story about how heaven is for real. But their attention is on someone else tonight - it's on their friend, Jesus. John tells us that Martha serves Jesus while Mary gets down and anoints the feet of Jesus with costly perfume and wipes them with her hair.

My devotional guide has invited me to imagine the smell of the perfume filling the house. I then read the words, "It was an extravagant, wasteful, and indulgent thing to do, but it spoke of a human reality: some opportunities need to be grasped as they arise, some moments need to be honored, friendship cannot always be calculating." The writer then adds, "Holy Week invites me to spend time with Jesus, not for any logical reason, but simply to accompany a lovely friend."

I'm pondering what it means to spend time with Jesus. Even more so, I'm pondering how often I put friends on the back burner. I used to talk to one of my closest friends every Sunday night. We caught up this past week after nearly two months of communicating only through Facebook updates. I have other friends going through changes and transitions that I don't reach out to nearly enough. I have four Godchildren and have not seen a couple of them in years - and one even lives in the same city. The busyness of life too often gets in the way, and I too often allow it to creep in on time with friends.

But I do the same thing when it comes to time with my friend, Jesus. I wanted to dig right into reading this morning, reading that would have started with the prayer, "Help me, Jesus. We've got sermons to write." But instead I'm here pondering what it means for me to spend time with my friend, Jesus. I tell my friends everything that's happening in my life - the good, the bad and the ugly. I laugh with my friends. I sometimes play with my friends. I eat with my friends. I reach out to my friends. I have to put everything aside in order to be with friends - something I always love even though I don't do it often enough.

I wonder how many times I've missed spending time with my friend, Jesus, because I've had too much to do. I wonder how many invitations Jesus has offered to just let go for a bit, step away from it all, and take wonder and delight in being in his presence instead of staying at the church another hour or doing more ministry. I wonder if the most faithful start of Holy Week is to clear the agenda for today and simply sit for a while - with my friend Jesus.