My friend Otey died last week and yesterday we had a grand celebration of his life. I am not sure how tall Otey was, probably about 6'7", so no matter where he was in Church on Sundays, you knew he was there. One Friday last year Otey noticed that our Office Administrator had to stand on a pew to change the numbers on the hymn boards and he volunteered to do that each week, something he could do standing on the floor.
What was important about Otey wasn't so much the things he did, although we appreciated them, but that he was our friend. He understood that Jesus, who calls us friends, has called us to be friends with one another. Being a friend doesn't mean that we always agree with one another or that we always approve of what a friend does. It means, as it meant for Otey, that we are committed to one another for the long haul, that we are there for one another, as my mother used to say, come hell or high water.
I will miss Otey. He was my friend, and, if I'm not wrong about friendship in Christ, he is still my friend and will be my friend forever.