By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, August 20, 2015

I have had the theme from Toy Story stuck in my head for two weeks. Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” has played on a loop as our three-year-old has watched all three movies of the series. Daily he chooses Buzz Lightyear as his friend and preferred playmate. I love to watch Logan play with his friends, both those real and imagined, and I remember the lifelong friends that I have had. One, in particular, I have known my whole life. He is a theologian and I, a pastor. We share two sides to the same vocation. My friend and I always pick up right where we left off and have seen every Star Trek movie together for the past twenty years. We talk about our parents, families, and call when the big things in life happen. 

Maybe you too have, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” stuck in your head. There are just some friendships that are life-giving because of shared history, affinity, interest, or time. Some friendships make us better. If you stay in a congregation long enough, then you develop this “tie that binds.” Our shared confession of being followers of Christ. That is our affinity. That is our shared history. Together we are the church. Together we are holy and wholly friends.

L. Gregory Jones calls these friendships, “holy” because these “friends challenge the sins we have come to love, affirm the gifts we are afraid to claim and help us dream dreams we otherwise would not dream.” In order to cultivate congregational relationships that go beyond the surface, we must see the world through others’ eyes. This leads to an appreciation of our differences and a shared respect of our strengths and a willingness to live this life together.