In the tenth installment of the Friends & Christianity series, we are going to look at Season 1, Episode 10, The One With The Monkey.

The friends are approaching the New Year, many with anxiety at not having dates. Chandler, who seems to have the most anxiety, proposes that they rebel against tradition and have dinner just the six of them. That way none of them, and especially not Chandler, have to face feeling pathetic for having no one to kiss when the ball drops.

This pact lasts all of a sitcom nano-second when Phoebe meets the man of her dreams at her coffee-house concert. David the science-guy sweeps her off her feet, and she tells her friends she’s breaking the pact to be with him on New Years Eve.

Chandler caves next, asking Janice in a moment of desperation. Then Monica calls in her ex, Fun-Bobby. Joey solicits the company of a single mom he meets while working as an elf. Rachel announces that Palo is coming home after all. Leaving Ross alone—or, semi-alone as he has a new friend, Marcel the Monkey.

At Monica & Rachel’s New Years Eve gathering, the strings of holiday bliss begin to unravel. Marcel is ignoring Ross. Chandler and Janice break-up again. Joey’s date brings her kids and then ends up in a bedroom with Max, the other scientist-guy. Palo missed his flight. Fun-Bobby, well he’s more like Depressing-Bobby. And, Phoebe, poor Phoebe…

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After finding out that David’s grant has been approved, and he and Max have been offered a three year all inclusive trip to Russia to study with leading scientists, Phoebe initially asks him to stay. At the party, Max tells them he’s going without David. Phoebe sees what her asking David to stay is costing him and, in a moment of very true love, breaks up with him so he can go.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13 ESV

And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city. ~ 1 Samuel 20:41-42 ESV

Sometimes loving people means letting them go.

As the ball drops, the six friends stand together in the kitchen all stag for the evening but all together again. Really, what better way to ring in the New Year than with those we love most and who have stood by us every day leading up to those last few moments of the year.

I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 NLT

And sometimes loving people means keeping close to them because, really, what is anything in life worth without friends?
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