From the Pastor . . .
[Jesus said:] "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).
Good friends are precious. To have someone you can turn to for advice and counsel and help is a great blessing and not to be taken for granted. I recently made use of such friends and was humbled by their concern and response. I know that I often thank God for my family and my church, but I often forget to thank Him for my friends. I need to change that!
That got me thinking also of the verse printed above, how Jesus called His disciples His friends. What a great honor for those twelve, to be friends of Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour! Friends to whom Jesus made known "all that I have heard from my Father!" They weren't just those Jesus told to go and do something "because I said so!" That's a servant. Just do it. You don't need to know why. They had an intimate friendship with Him, and He with them. They went fishing together, to a wedding together, and much more.
We often pray to Jesus as God, and rightly so. But I wonder if we should also pray to Jesus as friend - not just the one who is almighty and so can do what we need, but to the one who came to us and became one of us, and so knows exactly what we're going through. Whatever it is, whatever challenges and struggles, He knows. He's been there. He can help.
And He sends us folks to help us. How grateful I am for the friends He has given me that I can turn to for advice and counsel. They are truly gifts from God. And you have such friends, too. I don't know how abundant they are in your life, but I know you have a whole church full of them! Of folks who will come and help in time of need, who will lend an ear or speak a sympathetic word. We need them. Our Lord knows it. So what a gift we have in our church and our friends there.
But I know also that there are times when friends don't act very much like friends. I have been guilty of this, and I think of the friends of Job who came to him in his time of need and did not offer the best counsel or advice! At such times, then, we have the opportunity to be good friends and forgive. Maybe at such times they are needing us even more than we need them, and it is an unspoken and secret need that is causing them to act in such a way. And such drawing out and forgiving might be exactly what we need too.
Perhaps this is why Luther included friends in his explanation of the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer. Did you realize that?
Give us this day our daily bread.
What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the life.
Thank you Lord, for the friends you have provided, part of the daily bread we need in this life.
His servant and yours,