Dear friends,

My youngest nephew wrote me a letter. Such a fun surprise- his careful penciled printing on lined notebook paper, ending with “See you on Christmas!” and “P.S. it would be great if you would write back.” I did send him a letter, and expected to see him, but we ended up canceling our flights. Again.

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (CEB)

The holiday photo cards are still trickling in. Kids that I haven’t seen in years, growing and laughing, so full of life. Our family text threads and zooms connect us more than we ever were pre-pandemic. How do we love each other- those at a distance and those nearby?

This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 1 John 4:9 (CEB)

I found myself considering how Jesus showed love. He was a caretaker type, I thought today, modeling how to love friends and strangers. He noticed that the disciples were getting tired. Specifically, that “many people were coming and going, so that there was no time to eat.” (Mk 6:31), so he suggested they get away for a while and rest. Go to a secluded place by themselves. 

The problem was that people ran ahead and crowded up the formerly deserted place. “When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd,” he was annoyed. Oh, no! That’s not what it says. Maybe the disciples were, but Mark doesn’t mention that either. He says Jesus had compassion on them. So he taught them and fed them and sent the disciples away in a boat (again) while he dismissed the crowds. Then he went up on a mountain by himself to pray.

Jesus cares for his friends’ mental and physical health. He cares for the crowd’s needs. He cares for his own needs. No wonder people liked to hang out with him. I appreciate that in a friend- noticing what I need, giving generously, and taking care of themself too. It’s a pretty good model. 

Tired of gas station fare on our drive back from Texas, we splurged on delicious soups and salads with Panera gift cards- a thoughtful Christmas gift from friends. Food is love for this Italian girl, and I know many of you feel the same. I miss our meals together. One of my favorite parts of our 10am Sunday fellowship zooms was hearing about what folks were making and baking. 

It wasn’t all peaches and cream after Jesus fed the five thousand. The disciples were exhausted; they got away by themselves, but it wasn’t easy.

He saw his disciples struggling. They were trying to row forward, but the wind was blowing against them. Mark 6:48a (CEB)

Right now, a lot of people are struggling. We are trying to move forward, but the elements seem to be against us. The storm has intensified. It means a lot to me to read that Jesus saw his friends struggling. It reminds me that Jesus sees us too. Struggling. Not seeming to make any progress. It is disappointing that we are going back to online-only services. The wind has whipped up around us again. 

Just then he spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” He got into the boat, and the wind settled down. Mark 6:50b-51a (CEB)

Jesus comes to us amid the storm. He is with us in the boat. The wind will again settle down. Meanwhile, friends, let us love one another. In word and in text. By mail and on screen. You are all invited to join in a fellowship zoom on Sunday mornings at 10:00 Central time. Tell what you are making and baking, what birds you see outside your windows. Encourage each other. Point out where you are seeing Jesus. Help each other not to be afraid. 


One Comment On “Dear friends,”

  1. Perfect for the times we’re in. Again. Thanks, Renee. Good reminder.


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