Jesus says “I have called you friends.” (John 15)
Saint Chrysostom translates this phrase as “I ran after your friendship.”
In her stunning book “Wearing God” by Lauren Winner, she helps us to understand how God births this new way of being with God’s people. It is simple really: God speaks it. Jesus speaks it. Jesus makes friendship possible with God because Jesus simply speaks it into reality – today, in these verses. In this Gospel.
“I have called you friends” is God’s new creation. “I have called you friends” is God’s re-birthing of a whole religious system, no matter how much we keep returning to old temple structures the way an abused child so often seeks out abuser spouses. Power is, in a way, easier than friendship. Control is easier than freedom. Friendship and freedom means we need to think out our responses – it means we need to own our kindness, focus our breathing, and rebirth it every day.
Just as God speaks creation into reality in Genesis, God speaks friendship with God into existence in John’s Gospel – John – the patron saint of this cathedral – as a way of recreating alters into tables, wafers into loaves, thrones into chairs, consecrations into welcomings, vestments into clothes, chalices into goblets and stewardship into gratitude. And though we will resist it, our discomfort with God’s friendship does not un-speak what Jesus says in this Gospel. “I have called your friends.” “I am running after your friendship.”