The parking lot of our country church was full. I had to squeeze into a space on its far edges between a red van and a pick up truck, close to the end of the asphalt.
On my way to the church I balanced a travel mug of coffee; the two cherry pies I baked yesterday; my camera (in case I need it) and my heavy purse that felt as though it contained everything that might be needed for an extended camping trip rather than church.
I could hear my friend Frances's voice through the window, leading the worship team. I was a few minutes late, and the service was already happening. Inside the rows were filled with church members, and many of them had brought friends along as it was Friendship Sunday.
Our first ever Friendship Sunday service was refreshingly different to the usual church service in that the topic of friendship came alive through the interviews with various members of the church family that Rick, one of our pastors, had done. It was an interesting cross section of interviews: male, female, young, old, different personality types. He asked:
1. What is a friend?
2. How important is honesty in a friendship?
3. How important is communication in a friendship?
4. How much do you value your friends?
The answers people gave were thoughtful, funny, serious and wise and I felt that I got to know even people I know well, better.
Pastor Rick spoke about these points, and about friendship with Jesus. At the end, several people indicated that they wanted to know more about how to have a friendship with Jesus. It was a great morning.
Downstairs an abundant feast of hamburgers, hot dogs and salads waited for us, and enough desserts to feed a famished army!
I heard people saying what a friendly church this was. Nice. We're doing it again in July. Such a great idea.
I am home alone this weekend apart from several pets. As my friend Irene put it, "It's you and the zoo!" :) Everyone I normally live with is either on a mission trip to Mishkeegogamang First Nation (Tippy, Tori and Paul) or away at the cottage (Kevin and Brenda.) So Frances, Susan and I decided to seize the afternoon to watch one of my favourite movies together.
Irene had videotaped the movie for me years ago, because she knew I loved the movie, and this past Christmas Susan gave me the DVD of it, with the intent that one day the three of us--Frances, Susan and I, would watch it together. This was the day!
The movie is The Grass Harp, based on a novel by American author, Truman Capote that was inspired by memories of his Alabama childhood.
The movie is one of Susan's favourites too, but Frances had never seen it. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon of Friendship Sunday; we three friends and a movie that is about a bunch of misfits, and friendships, in a family and a town.
I cried at the end, as I always do! Susan said that we could easily spend an hour discussing the different relationships in the movie. Frances declared it very good.
It was made in 1995 and while it received good reviews, it did poorly at the box office. I still remember discovering it for the first time at the video store but seeing that there weren't multiple copies and it wasn't there for long. A hidden treasure.
The movie resonates with our Friendship Sunday at church today. In The Grass Harp, the "church people" of the town are not portrayed in a great light. They are stereo-typically judgmental and hypocritical. The misfits in the story seem to be the ones that Jesus would more likely spend his time associating with, and they reflect most closely the kindness, generosity, compassion and love of his character.
Today I think our church was a welcome place; a place that reached out a hand of friendship to the community; with kindness, generosity, compassion and love.