IMG_9500How very, very fast each progressive year rolls by! And it seems to get faster the older I become. Anybody agree?

2016 has been a good year for us catching up with some very old friends and some fairly new ones as well. We went to the Costa del Sol for March and met up with quite a few Gibraltarians. Some said exactly the same thing as we were feeling, we may not meet often, sometimes for years, but when we do meet up, how easy it is to resume our old friendships! We ate together, laughed together, reminisced together, and remembered the goodness and favour of God together. All just a little older, a little greyer, but still all part of that worldwide family of God.

On our trip to Australia in October, we met up with friends from our Newport days who we hadn’t seen, or barely heard about for over 40 years! But there, immediately, was that family bond, yes of belonging to Jesus, but also a shared heritage in Bethel Temple Newport with Eric Dando as our pastor.

We had a Nottingham reunion in September. We meet up every few years now it seems and we always make an effort to attend. Some of our old friends are no longer in the best of health, a few have lost their spouses, some have suffered really difficult family problems over the last few years and a few are themselves with Jesus.

Just at the beginning of December  we celebrated a 60th birthday party with a friend here in Hull. Old ‘New Life’ friends from all over Europe were invited to this ‘secret’ party! It was a real reunion and a joy to meet up with people we hadn’t seen for so long. We had meant to stay an hour but stayed four! It was a real New Life blast from the past!

We make an effort to meet up whenever the opportunity occurs, because these people are precious to us. They have made us who we are. Proverbs 27.17 says ‘ as iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.’ They have helped shape our lives, and hopefully just a little, we have helped shape theirs.

At this time of year it feels right to remember and communicate with these friends, to say God bless you, we love you, you are precious in our lives, we think of you often, we laugh at memories.

I’ve told you before, that often when we eat as a family, we raise our glasses to the King. As I’m realising anew how precious and wonderful old friends are, this year, I’ll be raising a glass to the King but also to the wonderful brothers and sisters in Him, He has at different times brought into our lives.

In the words of Terry Wogan, ‘Thank you for being my friends.’