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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friendship and Light

John the Beloved Disciple.

Who is your best friend? What is it about them that make them your best friend?

Trust? You can tell them anything. They understand you. She accepts your faults. He does things for you. Is it your dog or cat?

In high school I was playing basketball and Buddy Hooss fouled me and I was so mad I punched him in the face. He fought back and soon later we became best friends the rest of time we were in High School. We expressed our anger and rage and forgave each other.

My best friend now is my wife Ann. I wonder how she can put up with me, faults and joys shared.

St. John the Evangelist is this parish’s patron Saint. John was described as Jesus beloved disciple or best friend.

The famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting of the Last Supper has John leaning on Jesus breast.

Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code suggests that Leonardo painted John as a young girl. Perhaps sexual variation is appropriate for our parish. Little did our founding mothers and fathers suspect the appropriateness of the name St. John.

The Gospel of John is attributed to our St. John. John did not write the Gospel of John as it was written by an educated writer, in the finest Greek probably fifty years ater the death of Jesus. John, the beloved disciple was a working Man or woman, uneducated and wandered around with Jesus the Rabbi. The writer of the gospel had a sophisticated view of the incarnation or the idea that the word was enfleshed in Jesus yet there is no birth narrative in this Gospel.

The Word was made flesh. The word Word is another word for God. Our story is that God entered human history as the man Jesus.

What a friend we have in Jesus. It is rather a corny hymn. The idea that God became a human being as a friend is kind of corny too.

But think about it. What a profound an idea of friendship. Jesus was in profound and deep friendship with John, the beloved disciple, and also his other disciples. In Jesus and his friendship with his followers and with us that the church proclaims that the best way to understand God is through Jesus. The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The nature of God is in the nature of Jesus. Our deepest friendships on this earth are reflections of our relationship with God.

We are in love with our friends. We see them, care for them, heal them, nurture them and would even die for them. Sounds like Jesus to me.

Friendship is illustrated by this story sent to me and many of us by Michael Music…….

Twenty Years Later

December 24, 2009

As people across the world tonight light Christmas candles at Christmas Eve services, my mind goes back to another Christmas 20 years ago in Romania, when the country was still in the grip of communist tyranny.

The story begins with Laszlo Tokes, pastor of a fast-growing reformed church in the city of Timisoara. His powerful preaching had caught the attention of communist officials, and they began a strategy of suppression. They stationed police officers around his church, machine guns cradled in their arms. They hired thugs to attack him. Finally, just before Christmas, they decided to send him into exile.

But when the police arrived to hustle Pastor Tokes away, they were stopped cold. Around the church stood a wall of humanity. Christians from around the city—Baptist, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic, Jews—had joined together to protest.

All through the day they held their post. As it grew dark, a young Baptist student named Daniel Gavra pulled out a packet of candles, lit one, and passed it to his neighbor.

Then he lit another. One by one the burning candles were passed out among the crowd. Soon the darkness of the December night was pierced by the light of hundreds of candles. When Pastor Tokes looked out his window, he saw a sea of faces lit up by a warm glow.

That night, he said later, was the “turning point in my life.” He would never erase from his mind the picture of believers from all denominations joining hands in his defense.

Two days later, police finally broke through the crowd and dragged Pastor Tokes away. But that was not the end. The people now streamed to the city square and began a full-scale demonstration against the communist government.

Once again Daniel Gavra passed out his candles. Once again the night was lit by their glow.

Finally, the communist officials began to panic. They brought in troops and ordered them to open fire on the crowd. Hundreds were shot. Young Daniel felt a searing pain as his leg was blown off.

Yet the brave example set in Timisoara inspired the rest of the nation. Within days the entire population of Romania had risen up and the bloody dictator Ceausescu was gone. The churches filled with worshippers offering praise to God.

For the first time in half a century, the people of Romania celebrated Christmas in freedom.

In the hospital, Daniel Gavra celebrated while learning to walk with crutches. His pastor came by, offering him sympathy, but Daniel wasn’t looking for sympathy.

“Oh, Pastor,” he said softly. “I don’t mind so much the loss of a leg. After all, it was I who lit the first candle.”

What a powerful image for us here in America as we celebrate this Christmas—the picture of a black December night lit up by a glowing testimony to the unity of God’s people.

What mighty things the church could do today when it is truly is the church: when we stand shoulder to shoulder with all our brothers and sisters, ready to fight evil, prepared to give our limbs—and yes, even our lives—to light a candle in the darkness.

John also says Jesus is the Light of the world. The light of Christmas.

That light illumines our friendships, forgives the pain and sorrow we give our beloved friends, lights the way to new life.

Tips for an enlightened friendship:

Listen to what your friend is saying.

Ask your friend to tell you his story, listen to it.

Share yourself, you joys, sorrows and what makes you vulnerable.

Forgive, forget and move on.

Laugh at yourself.

Let her laugh at and with you.

Keep your agreements.

Be generous with your time and money.

We pray our president and congress continue to see the light of God’s word, Peace and Healing to all. We pray for and exert political pressure on them to push with all their might for more peace and more healing.

We pray that each of us will keep our promises to our friends and families. We know that we are forgiven and what we can do is be clear about what we intend to do and do it, knowing in the end we may have to repent and be forgiven.

John the beloved Disciple, the friend of Jesus, has this church named after him. This parish’s motto is More LOVE. What better ingredient of friendship than MORE LOVE. What better way to think of our whole life than a life lived for MORE LOVE.

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