So unlikely friendships have been formed. For a shy person this has continued to be a scary revelation - and one of the great blessings of being part of Christ’s church.

Church is nothing if it is not about people. Church is people. And people together share love, friendship – and pain. Disagreement, even animosity. Even passive aggro. It can be a painful business being part of a church.

On the other hand church is a place of reconciliation and healing. I often wonder why I still do this job. Temperamentally I feel quite unsuited to it, although I have come to understand Paul’s view that being unsuited is an excellent qualification from God’s point of view.

Church is about friendships. Not only ordinary human friendships which we are all more or less good and bad at, but divine relationships. Over the years the relationships people have formed with the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ are the ones that stand out. And it is these friendships which have been of most blessing to me.

Not without struggle, joy and pain, but blessing because of the common work of the Holy Spirit in our respective lives. It is this common sharing in the Holy Spirit that helps heal and reconcile and deepen bonds of affection. Church is a wonderful and real family in which to have friends.