Friendship is one of the best gifts in life and should not be taken for granted. Friendship can be tested at times, but with God’s help, friends can celebrate with you in good times, listen to you when you have a problem and can support you through difficult times.
Do you have that one special person in your life? Someone that you can confide in and tell them anything and you know your secret is safe with them? Most of us rely greatly on the company of true friends.
Friends help you through both the good and tough times on life’s journey. Try not to take them for granted and pray for them often.
Henri Nouwen in Out of Solitude tells us, ‘When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares'.
Setting the scene
Create a prayerful atmosphere in your classroom or chapel. Prepare a table at the front of your space. Cover it with a tablecloth. Put a cross, fresh flowers candle, and Bible. Get students to cut out a heart on red cardboard and then write the name of a special friend they would like to remember and to pray for during this liturgy. This could be pinned on the front of the cloth or collected in a basket and put in front of the table as an offering. They could also make a friendship banner. You will need to appoint some readers before you begin.
As students enter the room play ‘Be Not Afraid’ or some other well known hymn that is familiar to the class.
All: Loving Jesus, we thank you for the gift of friendship. Our friends spend time with us, encourage us, and share with us. They rejoice with us when we succeed, stay with us when we are upset and bless us always with their love. May we be ever thankful for them.
Leader: Even in Old Testament times the people understood what true friendship was.
A reading from the book of Sirach 37:1-6:
Anyone can claim to be your friend, but some people are friends in name only. The grief caused when a close friendship turns sour is as bad as death. This evil impulse we have! Why was it ever formed? How did it manage to cover the earth with deceit? Some people will be your friends as long as things are going well, but they will turn against you when trouble comes. A real friend will help you against your enemies and protect you in the fight. Never forget such a companion in battle; share the result of your victory with him.
This is the Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God
Leader: We all have flaws and often our flaws are the things that make a friendship strong and beautiful.
Reader: The cracked pot
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house. The cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
'I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you.' 'Why?' asked the bearer. 'What are you ashamed of?' 'I have been able for these past two years, to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws you have to do all this work, and you don’t get full value for your efforts,' the pot said. The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion said, 'As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.' Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path and this cheered him some. But at the end of the trail, he still felt bad because he had leaked out half his load, and so again the pot apologised to the bearer for his failure.
The bearer said to the pot, 'Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That is because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. There is always good in every situation.
I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walked back from the stream, you have watered them. For two years I have been able to pick beautiful flowers to decorate the master’s table. Without you being just the way you are he would not have this beauty to grace his house.'
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots, but if we will allow it, our flaws can be used to build beautiful friendships like the flowers. In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. That is what makes us what we are. We can all be the cause of beauty.
Leader: The apostles too found their lives changing because of the friendship of Jesus. They received the friendship of Jesus, as did Peter in this story, and knowing his love found themselves called by him, even when they did not feel worthy themselves. Jesus’ friendship asks us to look on ourselves as accepted,(even with our flaws) forgiven and called by God.
Reader: Luke 5:1-11; Jesus Calls the First Disciples
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’
When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
The Gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Prayers of the Faithful
Reader 1: We ask you Lord, to bless and give your love to all we think of now, for friends who have been good and helpful in our lives. We pray to the Lord.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
Reader 2: We pray for those who have no friends, for young people who find it hard to know that they are loved by us. We pray to the Lord.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
Reader 3: We pray for those who are lonely, who are depressed by their isolation. We pray that each of us can be sensitive to everyone’s need for both our love, O Lord, and the love of friends. We pray to the Lord.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
Reader 4: We pray for those who are bullied and feel they have no friends. Help us to notice them and to befriend them wherever possible. We pray to the Lord.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
All: Be with us Lord in all we say and do in our friendships; make us ready to forgive and to understand, to forget ourselves and own concerns and look on the concerns of others as equally important. Help us always, Lord to know you as a friend, and in knowing this to offer our friendship to others. This we ask of God our Father through Jesus our lord. Amen
Jewish prayer of blessing
Let there be love and understanding among us, let peace and friendship be shelter from life’s storms. Eternal God, help us to walk with good companions, to live with hope in our hearts and eternity in our thoughts, that we may lie down in peace and rise up to find our hearts waiting to do your will. Amen.
End with ‘Friendship Song' by Bruno Mars or 'Lean on Me' by Bill Withers.