We have newcomers to our neighbourhood in St Albans! They made a brief appearance last year, but now they are here all the time. They are very bright and colourful and very chatty particularly early morning and evening. I am of course referring to the parakeets and we have up to twenty or so moving among the trees here. We are starting to get used to them but initially they took all our attention in the garden and visitors continue to be impressed as with the hot sun this summer it gives a really tropical feel! But then our old friend the robin sidled up and I started to see the familiar tits darting among the bushes again.

It got me thinking about friendship and whether I am too easily impressed by the flashy newcomer or whether I really appreciate friends who have proved themselves over many years.

Jesus frequently taught that God doesn’t look at outward show but is more concerned about how we are on the inside – where our heart is. He rebuked those who tried to impress with their fancy displays.

This autumn we go on a break with three other couples we have known for over forty years. We have holidayed together, seen our children grow up and have families, celebrated the good times and been there for each other in moments of crisis. It will be a special time. I urge you to know who your real friends are and to treasure them as much as I hope I do.