Carol and I were eating in Wetherspoons (notice our economical lifestyle!) and sitting in a nearby booth was a young mother with her toddler beside her. She looked utterly miserable. Her whole demeanour spelt loneliness and sadness. Not a positive flicker crossed her face. We ordered our meal and had almost finished while all the time she was in my sight line. Her utter isolation seemed to increase each minute as around her families enjoyed pre-Christmas meals.
And then it happened. Another young mum came in, hugged her and her child, and with her own child sat down opposite. The transformation was total. Now her face was alight with happiness, her body energized and her conversation bright with laughter. She was completely changed. Her friend had come and the contrast was dramatic!
Genuine friendship is transformative. Being with a friend enriches us like no other relationship. And at Christmas when we marvel at the Word becomng flesh, of God immersing himself in our messed-up world, I thrill to the claim that through this baby God will make friends in the most powerful way possible. Who can ever forget the Lord's words: You are my friends! (John 15:14) His relationship with us goes deep and it works like friendship to the nth degree. Many of us rejoice in family and friends this Christmas but the fact that Jesus has come to make friends lights up lives in the most extraordinary ways. And he invites his followers to be friends together. I hope my face shows it, especially when I worship tomorrow! A very Happy Christmas to you!