September 29, 2011

5-Minute Friday: On Friends

When  my parents became too sick to attend church anymore, and slowly melted away from ravaging diseases until they died, finding out who their real friends had been was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had.  It wasn't the people they'd gone to church with for over 10 years who stood by them, watching over them, understanding that an inability to leave the house did not mean the abandonment of the faith that once led them to the church building every Sunday.  It wasn't the people with whom they supposedly had the most doctrines in common who proved to be their dearest friends, their pastors and their supporters; it was the elderly pastor and his wife from THAT OTHER denomination in town that took care of my parents.  These two, dear people ministered to the pastor and his wife who were no longer physically able to minister to others, who were broken-hearted at the loss of their own abilities to nurture new babies in Christ, and needed a little nurturing themselves as they made their way to their exit from this life.  Maybe that's the important point we miss in the story of the good Samaritan, the fact that there was nothing wrong with the Samaritan.  Jesus used a Samaritan as an example because the Jews to whom He was speaking would immediately recoil from such a person, and Christ's ultimate point wasn't just about who was kind and helpful, but about our prejudices.  My parents were Pentecostal; the pastor and his wife who "adopted" them in their final days were Baptist.  Maybe it's time we all just grew up and realized that our best friendships are wherever we make them, with whomever we're willing to ignore our prejudices toward long enough to see their inner goodness.

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