I’m sure that we are all very familiar with the song “What a Friend we have in Jesus.” It is a beautiful song that everyone, from the youngest child to the most senior adult loves to sing. In my own humble opinion, we don’t sing this song nearly enough. There is also an old saying that goes something like, “A friend of so-and-so’s is also a friend of mine.” Taking these two things into consideration, I’d like to tell you about a friend of Jesus.
I only know this person as Robert. Robert is a simple man, perhaps in his mid fifties. He doesn’t seem to have a lot going for him and I would suppose he never did. I don’t know Robert’s background, but if I had to guess I would say that he is a highly functioning autistic man. I don’t know where he lives, who his family members are or even if he has any family. The only thing I know about him is that he is a friend of Jesus, and so he is a friend of mine.
Robert stops by our church about three times each week, and especially on Sunday morning. When he comes he only asks for one thing; Robert wants to pray the Our Father. He isn’t particular whom he prays with, he doesn’t insist on seeing the pastor and is comfortable praying with any of God’s people. He takes delight in praying with everyone and anyone, this is how I know he is a friend of Jesus. Robert takes seriously Jesus’ promise that where two or more are gathered in his name, Jesus also is in their midst.
Robert stopped by last Sunday to say hello and to pray. I hadn’t seen him in a while so it was good to lay eyes on him and to know he is alright. The streets of our little part of God’s kingdom have been unseasonably cold, and I worry about folks like Robert. He was bundled up wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a scarf around his neck. Over his shoulder was his familiar old back pack. When Robert showed up, I was on my way from our parish house to the church nave. Our guest for the day, the assistant to our synodical bishop was with me. In his quiet and unassuming way, Robert extended his hand and asked if we would pray with him. And so we prayed, Robert, the bishop’s representative and me, right there on the sidewalk. At the Amen, Robert wished us a blessed day and with that was off to another adventure.
There is never a dull moment here in our little corner of God’s kingdom, and each day brings a new surprise. Sometimes Jesus himself pops in for an unexpected visit, and sometimes our Lord’s friends stop by. But what I love most about being called to this community is being able to look out my window onto the kingdom streets and seeing so many of God’s children at work or at play. The best part is that at any given moment, one of Jesus’ friends will stop in and say hello.