Monday, 30 July 2007

Wedding Rights

As I’ve said the wedding was good ‘un. One of the crucial ingredients was definitely friendship. The bride and groom are, to differing degrees, part of a truly remarkable network of friends that has been sustained and matured over the past fifteen years. It has been fascinating to observe and to a certain extent participate in this network of friends. It is marked by great openness, remarkable hospitality, genuine care; an ever shifting, labyrinth of relationships, a kind of This Life with added Jesus.

It was the friends and the way they mucked in with admirable commitment and genuine skill that made this wedding so right. And it was reconnecting with this network that brought to mind an important lesson about church: it’s impossible to make church work well unless you grow real friendship.

In my table of key indicators of a healthy church, friendship would be pretty close to the top. People enjoy church and stay there when they find friends. Fostering friendship has to be one of the most important skills a church leader can develop. If we aspire to a flourishing church community we ought to treasure and encourage those who have the spiritual gift of parties, the born (again) conveners of conviviality.

One more thing, the kind of friendship I have in mind is very rarely based on attending meetings. In my experience it is far more likely to grow out of drinking wine or beer together, playing risk together, eating cheap and nasty curries together, playing golf together, watching films together, playing poker together, walking together, playing football together, arguing together, playing music together, camping out at Greenbelt together and mucking in to arrange a friend's wedding.

(Out of interest does anyone out there know of any decent theologies of friendship or any substantial work on friendship and church growth?)

3 comments:

Dick Davies said...

Yeah - and to see folks all pull together - both before and after the do - poetry.

Catriona said...

Theologies of friendship - now whether these are "decent" is for you to decide, but these some things I read when I was doing my undergrad dissertation...

Hunt, M. E., ‘Lovingly Lesbian: Toward a Feminist Theology of Friendship’ in Nelson et al (eds.) ‘Sexuality and the Sacred’ , London, Mowbray 1994 pages 169-182

Hunt, M. E., Fierce Tenderness: A Feminist Theology of Friendship’, New York, Crossroads, 1992

O’Connor, P., Friendship Between Women: A Critical review, Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992

There are plenty of odd bits in standard works on ethics and spirituality!

Also, a couple of years back your colleague down/up the corridor gave me a copy of a paper he'd written on friendship theology...

None of these is exactly 'missional' but I guess it's all grist t't mill

Anonymous said...

Great comments. Look forward to reading future posts. I'm not a "wedding person" and think some people like the idea of being married and the wedding and stuff that goes with it more than being married! We were at a fabulous wedding once – no expense spared. The couple literally sailed off in a boat into ribbon of moonlight – was worthy of a Hollywood movie. 18 months later they were divorced!! I was never a fan of weddings but that convinced me they are a waste of money!! This one however, sounds different. Margaret