This week I listened to a podcast on loneliness and although it was a UK focused programme I know that it is a big issue here too. Just before Christmas I met with the lady responsible for social welfare in Tervuren to ask what the biggest needs in the community were and without drawing breath she said ‘loneliness’.
Loneliness is a big problem in our society, it isn’t just an issue for elderly but it is increasingly effecting younger people too. Despite being more connected than ever before loneliness is growing. I am confident that as I write this all of us at some point can relate to it and some of you will be feeling it right now.
I believe that the church has to have an answer to this. Actually church done well is the answer.. A community ready to embrace, welcome and love. Last Sunday we talked about how important it is to continue to meet together in order to encourage one another and send each other out. I absolutely see this as a priority of the church, going out. But it is also OK, to come and just be together, to be welcomed, connected and loved. Psalm 68.6 tells us that God sets the lonely in families. We are family and a refrain that crops up again and again through the pastoral letters of the New Testament is to be devoted to one another.
So let us be aware of one another and devoted to each other. Church is about ‘we’ not ‘me’. I’m an advocate of Home Groups. My heart isn’t simply for small groups that gather two or four times a month at someone’s house—as great as that step is. My hope is that from it we find true community together. A small group is a people, not a time on the calendar. Healthy groups encourage, challenge, and support one another.
If any of this has stirred something in you then I’d encourage you to pray about it, have a listen to the podcast, which isn’t from a faith perspective but as you listen ask God, what is my response? What is our response?