F is for ‘Father forgive them’ and friends

My posts for the A to Z Challenge this year are all about the Easter Story, recorded in 4 books of the New Testament: the Gospels. Image in sidebar links to Theme Reveal post.

Image in sidebar or below post links to Theme reveal

On the first Good Friday Jesus Christ had been nailed to a wooden cross and was dying a criminal’s death between two convicted criminals on crosses either side of him. He prayed to his heavenly Father, that he would forgive the people, who had brought about his crucifixion and those who were dividing up his clothes. ‘Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.Luke 23:34

Jesus had taught his disciples (Letter D) about forgiveness. When they asked him how many times they should forgive someone and suggested seven times, Jesus had replied, ‘Seventy times seven’. This is a large enough number that anyone would have lost count. Thus he was teaching that forgiveness should always be practised. He demonstrated this in his own life. Matthew 18:21-22

Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. He could have been too high and mighty to have friends, but he told his disciples, ‘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 (NIVUK)

My Theme Reveal contains links to the Easter story in the New Testament.

Friends and friendship

Recently I have been thinking about friends and friendship.  This was partly due to the publication of two blog posts on another platform with a link to a quiz about connectedness.  Coincidentally another blogger I follow also wrote a very good post about friendship.  Readers with time might also like to visit The Friendship Files, which is the internet home of another talented writer.

I have one friend I first met fifty years ago and others not many years later.  New friends have come into my life in the past few months.  Some people I first met years ago have re-entered my social circle.  Many friends of the family are no longer with us.  I have no cause to revisit the town where I grew up.

Some of my friends have moved away and we are no longer in touch.  Others still write at Christmas.  Several friends have died, some well before their three score years and ten, others at a ripe old age.  All are remembered with affection.

Although I used to be very shy, I have always had friends, although I have also experienced exclusion from groups where I ought to have belonged.  My first friend changed schools and then moved away.  We kept in touch for a while (or rather our mothers did until hers sadly died).  No group of friends remains static.  People move or take on commitments, which make it difficult for them to meet frequently.  New people arrive.  It can be difficult for new people to find friends.  Anyone who has lived in the same town or village for the whole of their life is less likely to realise how daunting it can be to arrive in a new place.

I was fortunate in having a young child to break the ice for me, when I moved to a place full of strangers.  I later wrote a poem about the experience, which I have recorded and published on SoundCloud.  Hubby had colleagues at work, but I made friends through children’s activities, the Women’s Institute and the parish church.  I was also invited to join a ladies’ choir, although I had not sung in a choir for many years.  Other newcomers had similar interests and we became friends.

Having been a newcomer, I try to look out for and talk to others, who may not know many people. Sometimes people have to move on and face similar experiences.  On occasions I have found myself encouraging people at that stage I their lives.  It is rather poignant to find that someone has become a closer friend just before they leave the area!  Equally newcomers often find other friends and no longer need to talk to me.  In the past this has saddened me, but now I am used to it and find other people to befriend.  Thinking about the word befriend – it means be( a )friend( to).  Do we need to learn to be friends rather than go looking for people to be our friends?

When does someone change from an acquaintance to a friend?  First we know people by sight.  We pass the time of day, but perhaps do not have a conversation.  There are many people, with whom I have had friendly conversations, who would not consider me a friend.

Friends share activities, whether it is a cup of tea and a chat or walking with or without dogs.  They ought to be people, who help and encourage each other.

What about the world of social media?  Friends on Facebook may well be people we see less now than in the past.  Twitter is different altogether.  There are no friends there only followers and following.  People with similar interests seem to group together.  I regard on-line friends rather like pen-friends, but more immediate.  I kept up a correspondence with a pen-friend I never met for over forty years until her untimely death.  I have only been using social media for about three years.  Already I have been saddened by the deaths of two people I only knew on-line.  I share in the joys and concerns of people I have not met as I read their blogs, statuses and Tweets.

It is sad when people have no friends.  I have heard people say that certain people will not be able to make new friends.  This attitude is hard for me to understand.  There are some very old people, who have made new friends at every stage of their lives.

Admittedly there are times when it can be hard to go out and meet new people.  When there is illness, either one’s own or of a close family member it may be difficult.  At those times the friendship of strangers and of existing friends can be a source of strength.  Having conversations with these people helps keep one’s social skills alive and makes it easier to make new friends in happier times.

Even in sad times it is not impossible to make new friends.  There are organisations, which provide meeting places for carers and for the bereaved.  One of my friends, who moved away, used to be a bereavement counsellor.  I once enlisted her help.  She came to see me and brought her Bible, which she opened at Psalm 139.  When she left I felt as though a weight had been lifted from me after many years.  This psalm has become one of my favourites.

I have believed Christianity to be true for as long as I can remember.  Psalm 139 is one of the reasons that I believe that God loves individuals including me.  Being loved by our Creator, His Son our Saviour and empowered by the Holy Spirit to show that love to others must surely give us hope.  Romans 8:35-39

Related post Friend or foe?

Interconnectedness

Before the summer holidays several of the craft group ladies made pretty dresses for a charity project Dress a girl around the world.  This worthwhile project provides girls with a pretty dress each, which should last them for a few years.  It is hoped that they will be respected and less likely to be attacked.

I did not take part in the project as I knit for charity and find that less demanding than sewing.  Craft group is something I regard as relaxation rather than work.

I keep in touch with two friends I knew at school.  This week I was fortunate to be able to meet up with each of them. One surprised me with her enthusiastic account of a recent trip she made to Uganda with a small charity founded and run by someone she knows.  Supporters sponsor children’s education.  Among other useful commodities they took some of these sorts of dresses (which may be made from pillow cases).

Of course the interweb makes the dissemination of information very easy, but I still find these sorts of connections (or coincidences) pleasantly surprising.  There are many links between what my friends in the various parts of the world are involved with.

My other friend showed me holiday photos showing trees decorated with knitted fabric.  She hadn’t heard of yarn-bombing.  I’m not sure whether there are any benefits (apart perhaps from tourism) arising from yarn-bombing.  Organisations such as Knit for Peace might be a better outlet for the output of prolific knitters.

I wrote this post on my tablet on the train.  On my return home I found that one of my writer friends on Facebook was giving thanks for special friends.  So am I!