Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.3 John 15
When I turned 21, my parents threw a big party for me. They invited all my friends from school and the house was filled with my family and my friends.
That was over thirty years ago. One or two of those family members are gone now – asleep in Jesus.
And the friends I had in college then are scattered across the country now – and one or two of those are now asleep in Jesus.
But there are four friends who were my closest friends then that are still my very best friends now.
I first met these guys in 1984 as we all enrolled in the pastoral ministry program at Concordia College (now University) Wisconsin.
We then all went to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and one-by-one and at different times we all were ordained into the pastoral ministry of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Why have we continued to be best friends for thirty-five-plus years? Why does any friendship last? What can we do to have lasting friendships?
A Common Bond
For the five of us, I think it starts with a common passion and bond. We actually have several.
First, when we met, we were all studying to be pastors. We had many classes together – Greek, theology, and others.
We all felt the calling to be pastors. We all received support from our families. And we all supported each other in our formation of becoming pastors.
A second common bond was music. We all were musically inclined. Several of us played an instrument but all of us sang.
We soon realized that while we all loved to sing, we all sang different parts – bass, baritone, lead and tenor. This quickly led us to sing together and we formed an a capella group called “The Master’s Voice.”
In college, we had eight voices – bringing in three additional guys who were not pre-seminary students. We sang all over campus and throughout the Midwest during college.
By the time we were all in seminary together, we tightened the group to just the five of us and eventually recorded in a studio!
In addition to our commonalities we are also different in some ways.
We all have a love of sports – baseball, football, basketball, hockey. But this is where we also diverge a bit.
One of us in a Chicago Bears fan. The others are Green Bay Packer fans. Miraculously, we are still friends!
Some played sports in college and seminary, one of us reported on sports, and some of us just watched sports.
We were also different in where we grew up. One of us in Illinois, the others in Iowa & Wisconsin – with one of us doing a stint in western New York.
While today diversity can drive people apart – sometimes violently – for us, our diversity drew us closer together.
And it sparked fun in our friendship!
Our commonalty and our diversity made us friends and kept our friendship strong.
A Passionate Goal That Never Fades
But beyond all of that was – and is – a shared passionate goal that never fades.
We are all loved by God. And we all love God. We all love sharing the love of God!
Our salvation from sin through the blood of Jesus makes us who we are. Our passion to tell others about this through preaching, teaching, writing, and singing, keeps our friendship strong and enduring.
A Friendship That Lasts
In an ever-changing world, it seems that even personal relationships and friendships are fleeting.
Styles change. Definitions can change, as well.
But amidst all the manifold changes of this world, I’m grateful for two things that haven’t changed.
My Savior, Jesus Christ – who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
And my friendship with Kurt, Mark, Jeff and Steve.
Heavenly Father, I think you for friends and friendships that endure. Because of Your Son, Jesus, and His love for us, my friends and I are still friends even after 35 years. I pray that our friendship can inspire new and lasting friendships in a world rocked by devastating change. I pray that You will continue to bless our friendship so that others may know what we know – the love of Jesus Christ. In His name, amen.