“Cherish Your Friends”

Newsletter Episode 67

“You are my friends….”

It’s been a joy this week to connect with family and friends. It seems to have been a thread through the last few days. I popped down to Kent on Sunday evening to spend two days with my parents helping them out with some practical matters. We discussed their financial affairs and worked through their power of attorney forms. My sister and I, who will be attorneys and trustees, felt very honoured and trusted by the willingness of our parents to allow us into these more intimate areas of their lives.

Then on Wednesday evening Penny and I joined a very special Zoom event with members of the Dublin church. It was time to say “goodbye” to Charlie and Jeanette Hynes and their home which has been the hub in so many ways for the Dublin church for the last 15-20 years. Many were crying bitter-sweet tears remembering the love, kindness, patience and hospitality of Charlie and Jeanette.

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Just today I had a refreshing and inspiring conversation with an old friend, Steve Staten. We talked about all things ‘teaching’. I wanted his advice for me regarding the pursuit of a Masters in theology which I intend to take up next year. In addition, we talked about teaching ministry and what it means to a congregation and a nation. 

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On Monday I celebrate the 36th anniversary of my baptism into Christ. In some ways it seems like what it is – half a lifetime ago, but in another sense it feels very recent. Once again I’m grateful to Julie Desouza for introducing me to the church and to Chris McGrath and Douglas Arthur for teaching me the Scriptures. The night of my baptism I sat up into the wee small hours with Tim Dannatt, Archie Kendall and Douglas Jacoby as Doug taught me a comprehensive lesson on the Holy Spirit. All are still counted as good friends. How lucky I am that I have not only had Jesus with me these last 36 years, but many other faithful and loving friends.

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Friends must never be taken for granted. I’ve not even mentioned the conversations I’ve had in the last seven days with Danny, Tim, Shevvy, Ben, Barry, Adrian, Maureen, the Renovare book club (Steve, Fabri, Faith, Paul, Raelene, Louise, Rob and Jonathan) and others. Of course, our ultimate friend is Jesus.

He said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 NIV11) 

What does a friend do, perhaps above all other activities? He or she listens. Jesus listens to our half-baked ramblings all the time, never interrupting. I spoke to one friend this week, or rather he spoke to me. He talked for 1 1/2 hours in which time I said approximately 20 words. I know he was grateful, he had a lot to get off his chest. The experience made me more grateful for those super-listeners in my life like Tim. Much of the time friends are so valuable because they give you the space to figure out what you’re thinking. To figure out which “boat” you are in. This analogy is well expressed in this excerpt from an article written by Joan Mankoo in the latest Thames Valley newsletter:

“I have heard it said quite often during these times of coronavirus that we are ‘all in the same boat’, but I rather like to think that we are all in the same storm but in different boats. So for some it may feel much more rocky, for others their boat might feel sturdy and secure. I guess for me as I go about trying to support people, I prepare myself to get into their boat, despite my own vessel being more robust. Being prepared to be alongside someone in the storm not only communicates empathy but importantly, a trust that the storm will pass and that the person will have held on…with hope.”

(Joan Mankoo)

It’s not always clear to me which boat I am in. Indeed, I move from one boat to another as the days go by. A listening friend helps me to understand not only in which vessel I am sailing, but also how I am handling it, and the lessons that God may be teaching me whilst I am in it. Who is your listener-friend? Have you found some time to speak to them about your current boat? And, could you be a good listener-friend to somebody who needs to figure out which boat they are in and what on earth the storm is about?

May I and all of us take every opportunity to thank our friends for accepting us, and Jesus for his wonderful friendship.


“There is No Longer Jew nor Greek”: Dialogue on Christianity and Race

Video and audio available

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“Thank you” very much to the 141 people who attended. We would be very grateful if you could complete the questionnaire at the following link. The survey only contains seven questions. It will not take much of your time.

This will help us to assess the usefulness of the event as well as plan future events.

Please fill in the form by 8pm Sunday night, 01 November if possible because that will enable us to collate the information and process it in time for another event this year – if that is desired.

PS – video of the session can be found here.

PPS – audio can be found here.

PPPS – the advanced reading can be found here.


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The week ahead

If you’d like to pray for me I’d be very grateful. Here are some of my plans that you could include.

  • A sermon for the Watford Church on Sunday 8th November
  • A ‘sabbath day’ on Monday to pray over and plan November and December
  • A third Tuesday teaching tip in a new series – “Use tactical silence”.
  • The next “What we are reading episode” focussed on magazine reading
  • The sixth quiet time coaching episode from the series based on Pete Greig’s book, “How to pray”. We will be looking at intercession – how to ask God for other people.
  • Working on a teaching series for January and February 2021 on the character of Abraham and those connected with him in the Scriptures. 

Until the next time, 

God bless, Malcolm