Dear Hyde Park Family,

Like many of you, I watched the 80s NBC sitcom “The Golden Girls,” about a group of four elderly women who forged a deep and enduring friendship. You might also remember the opening lines of their theme song:

Thank you for being a friend.

Travel down the road and back again.

Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.

Many of our most popular television shows explored the beauty of true friendships, from “Cheers” (“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name”) to “Friends” (“I’ll be there for you / When the rain starts to fall”) and even as far back as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (“Won’t you be my neighbor?”)

We all grew up knowing the value of having a close group of friends to be by our side, to help us face the highs and lows of life.

So, what’s gone wrong?

Many studies over recent years have chronicled our current “Friendship Recession.” The American Perspectives Survey, conducted by the Survey Center of American Life, (American Enterprise Institute, 2021) found that Americans have fewer closer friendships than they did in 1990, talk to their friends less often, and rely less on friends for personal support.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is a factor, but there are other explanations for this downward trend, including the fact that Americans are working longer hours and traveling more for work than before, diminishing time to make and maintain solid friendships. (American Enterprise Institute, 2021)

THIS SUNDAY: STRONGER FRIENDSHIPS

We will explore the value of friendships this Sunday as part of our current worship series “You are Not Alone.” We will gain insight from passages from the Bible’s wisdom literature – Ecclesiastes and Proverbs – including these famous verses: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil.” (Ecclesiastes 5:9) and “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9)

We will also learn from the great C.S. Lewis, who wrote an essay on friendship in his book, “The Four Loves:”

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one … It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

See you Sunday, as we rediscover the power of friendship, and learn ways to strengthen them.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist