Thursday, January 15, 2009

Persistent Friends

"Since they could not get him in to Jesus because of the crowd,they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on." Mark 2:4

My husband has a group of friends that, despite being scattered across the country, keep in touch by email. Most of these friends (and we call them 'the boys') went to college with at Hopkins with Mark. Some of them worked together on the college newsletter. Some of them also played softball together in mid-1980's when we lived in Baltimore. When they played softball together, they weren't the best team in their league but they had the most fun. They made room for all sorts and types and kept each other laughing throughout. My daughter Emily, who was five at the time, stood on the sidelines and shouted, "Go Daddy Go". Within a short period of time, everybody was cheering for Mark and each other with, "Go, Daddy, Go."A collection of lawyers, musicians and artists, they had sent jokes and stories to each other throughout the intervening years. When Mark was battling cancer and couldn't attend a particular gathering, they made sure to include him, even at a distance and sent him the t-shirt to prove it. This isn't a tight knit religious club or cult but a loose fraternity of persistent friends. They care for each other by lightening each others' days. They keep at it, despite the fact it would be easier to just quit touching base.

It would have been easier for the paralyzed man and his friends to turn back. The place was packed and there was no room for them. But they persisted, they were resourceful and found a way to Jesus. And Jesus recognized their persistence and love as the faith that paves the way for healing. There was nothing that Jesus could do but heal the man, because of his persistent friends. And truly, we are blessed and healed, each of us, when we have friends enough who will persist on our behalf when our strength has run out. We are close to God's heart when we feel a community surrounding us in our need. Our isolation disappears and love is ushered in with a small amount of persistence in our lives.

May we today give thanks for the friends and family we have been given. May we rejoice in those who won't give up on us, for they usher in our healing and transformation. May we celebrate those who have remained loving, despite our humanity, because in their love, we know God most fully. And may today we pray that we can be persistent for others. When despair and pain surrounds them, we can share the heart of God.

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