I received a Christmas card in the mail from one of my dear seminary friends, Mark Knisley. I must admit that I felt a bounce in my step when I realized the card was from him (and his wife Nancy). I experienced joy.
The third advent candle represents joy and yesterday Gray preached an inspired sermon entitled, "The Joy of Friendship." At least three aspects of joy show up to me when I think about friendships. The first is the act of finding a new friend. You can have many acquaintances, but a true friend is a special find. There is something familiar in them, a piece of your-self, and of course, so much that is different. To find a friend is the joy of recognition.
A second joy in friendship is that they transcend time. You probably have a friend in your life with whom you didn't speak to in years, but when you reconnected, it was as if you hadn't missed a beat. A deep sense of joy arises in the re-connection with an old friend.
Another joy in friendship is the grace of acceptance. No friend can perfectly meet our expectations and needs so disappointment is baked into the cake of friendship. With friends, true friends, a Godlike form of acceptance creates a supportive space that we all need in our lives. A true friend is an accepting and forgiving friend.
I want to share a picture of friendship that encapsulates these three aspects of joy. The picture was taken as two dogs; Buddy and Boudreaux met for the first time. I'm quite sure I have never been so transfixed in capturing the utter joy of finding a new friend.
These two are a mess!!! May their joyful delight in friendship light to candle of joy in your hearts this Christmas and may you share this joy with your friends and family.