Friends are one of God’s greatest gifts, right? You can play with friends, sing with friends, talk with friends, and eat with friends. With the virus, you may be missing your friends from school or the neighborhood. I hope you have seen them over Zoom or had some fun socially distanced play dates.
There are two pair of best friends that are particularly famous. And I bet you have heard of them. The first is Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. Ernie is orange, short and round. Bert is yellow, thin and tall. Both wear striped shirts and both take good care of each other. At Christmas, Bert gets Ernie a soap dish for his rubber ducky and Ernie gets Bert a cigar box to keep his paper clip collection in. Bert and Ernie tell each other silly jokes. I love Bert and Ernie.
The second pair of famous best friends is Frog and Toad. Arnold Lobel wrote a book about them for his own children in 1970 called “Frog and Toad Are Friends.” It’s easy to remember their names because they don’t have any except Frog and Toad. Toad is short, round and brown. Frog is tall, thin and green. Frog wakes up Toad on the first day of Spring. Toad tells a story to Frog when he is sick in bed. Frog helps Toad find a lost button from his jacket. Frog writes Toad a letter so he gets some mail. I love Frog and Toad.
When my daughter Colleen was four years old she met her best friend Greta at a Halloween party. Colleen was dressed up as a princess and Greta had a bumble bee costume. They loved to play dress up and tell each other secrets and play in the backyard. Terry, Greta’s mom, became my best friend. We liked to drink coffee and talk, while our kids played together at the park. We went to the same church and Colleen and Greta both loved to sing and sang in the children’s choir. And now Colleen, all grown up, is one of my best friends too.
Today, the gospel tells a story about Jesus and one of his best friends, Peter. Jesus had many friends called disciples: Mary Magdalene, James, Paul, John, Judas, Simon. Peter was a special friend, an apostle. Peter was a fisherman and he left his nets to follow Jesus. Peter loved listening to Jesus’ stories. He loved eating with Jesus. He loved Jesus but he did not always understand or follow through. Jesus told “Peter, you are the rock on which I will build my church.” That sounds pretty special, right? Jesus gives Peter his nickname “Rocky.” He was rocky because he was thick skulled and stubborn. He was rocky because he could not always be counted upon. He was called rocky because he was a bit rough around the edges. Peter is a lot like us. We are a lot like Peter. And Jesus understands, that everyone who follows him is a little rocky too.
Jesus welcomes everyone. And no matter how rocky we are, we all have something important to do; sharing and caring for all the friends of Jesus. That is what the church is all about.
I’d love to hear stories about your best friends. You can tell me at coffee hour or maybe draw me a picture or write me a note and send it to me!
Much love, Joani
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog