Faith Focus: Friendships need work and investment

Alan Sharp.

Alan Sharp. - Credit: Archant

I am always losing things. I seem to spend about half of my waking hours – and there are all too few of those these days – searching, usually for things that don’t matter much.

But this month I am about to suffer a far more serious loss, one that puts all my missing spectacles, hearing aids and false teeth into perspective.

I am about to lose my vicar. I am devastated. Father Grant, having reached retirement age, is going to retire. And St Mary’s Marshalswick in St Albans has to face the question which most churches have to face from time to time. “How do we replace the irreplaceable?”

One of Fr Grant’s many outstanding gifts is his ability to make, and keep, friends. It has been a privilege over the past few years to regard myself as one of them. I am losing him as my vicar – I am determined not to lose him as a friend.

When I was in the Scouts, the weekly troop meeting would sometimes end with a prayer that we would do nothing to break the friendships we formed there. That was the problem.

I, and I imagine most of my fellow Scouts, did nothing. Inevitably, within a short time, most of us lost touch with one another. Friendships have to be worked at.

As a result of the coronavirus many people have found new friends. It has been heart-warming to discover how many people are willing to go out of their way to help the isolated and the vulnerable. Total strangers have become good friends.

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And now we have the opportunity to work at those friendships which have, over the years, declined to the annual exchange of Christmas cards. We would like to revive some of those friendships but do not know how to begin.

Now we are justified in asking any of our acquaintances how they are coping in the current situation. A card, a phone call, a letter, might be all that is needed to initiate a renewal of past friendships. It is something we can all do.

Now where did I put my glasses...?

Alan Sharp is a Methodist lay preacher and a member of both Marlborough Road Methodist Church, St Albans, and St Mary’s Church, Marshalswick