It happens in friendships. Years are spent together building closeness and unity, then life happens. Distance is created. Situations change. People move. Friendships grow apart.

However, the transformational thing is that regardless of how much distance is formed, we always have the opportunity to bridge that gap and close the distance.

In May, I officiated the funeral for my aunt, my mom’s sister, who did her very best to serve as a mother figure in my life after my mom’s death.

There was anxiety around doing the service because, contrary to what the in-person worshipers would think yesterday after my tears were shed, I don’t like to cry in front of people. Ha! So I was nervous that I would not be able to maintain my composure as I shared words regarding her life and faith. In addition, the service was in Roxboro, NC, several hours from here. So I had no expectations that my circle of friends would show up. However, when I rounded the corner leading the family in the chapel, two folks, despite the distance and craziness of life, showed up.

I had no idea the peace that would bring, but it did.

Then, just as I was getting ready to finish my remarks and share that we could celebrate that Betsy had now wholly entered into the fullness of God, I saw her. Sitting ¾ of the way back in the chapel, my “church” friend.

The friend I played with went to Sunday School with, who sat with me when my mom died. Now, 43 years later, she sat in front of me at the Celebration of Life Service for my aunt. Afterward, her remarks lingered in my mind.

“There is no distance or time that would keep me from being here to celebrate the life of your family. You were always my dear, sweet friend.”

As we free Jesus from the confines we’ve placed on him in our human understandings of faith and religion, we are invited to see Jesus as a friend truly. One that comes with love, trust, and joy and offers us divine companionship. Jesus is the mediator of divine companionship and collapses the sacred distance between God and us. By glimpsing at Jesus, we see the unconditional love and relationship offered to each of us by God.

That is a friendship that never fails, never disappoints. One that will never hurt or betray. One we are each invited to share in each and every day.

Jesus is our divine friend. How can you claim that friendship today?

1 Peter 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.