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Communion Meditations (2006)

What a Friend!

Originally delivered June 18

He may be rather difficult to spot.  He might even be you.  He is present at any worship of a large congregation, but can often be found in the smaller ones as well.  He is the man alone—the one who has loneliness as his companion, even in a crowd.

He rather prefers the larger churches.  It’s much easier to hide in a crowd, and the existence of one more soul seems a small matter.  He prefers a church with the new choruses rather than the old hymns; old hymns hold memories.  You might eventually connect his face to his name, but you have not connected him to the church.

Sometimes it’s the result of hidden sin.  “If anybody here knew what I have done…”  He hears no testimony of what Christ has done for others; he is therefore alone.  He’s the only drunkard in the congregation, the only pornography addict, the only man who ever drove a loving wife away from himself.

Sometimes it’s the result of deep wounds.  Other women who have been through a bitter, messy divorce don’t seem to be there; only happy suburban families.  Those who had childhood horror are also not there; he is alone.  No one shares the secrets or the pain; he is alone.

What can we do about it?  In imitation of our Lord, you can reach out as friend to friend.  It may be superficial at first; it almost must be.  But there are two things our lonely one seeks:

· He seeks unconditional love.  Anyone who is lovely is easy to love.  The hard part is seeing past the sins and hurts to do just that.

· He’s looking for a crack in the mask.  Just something to reassure him that in this place there is someone who knows how he feels.

Who is that someone other than our Lord and Savior?  Does he understand loneliness?  Think again of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane.  When His accusers caught Him, all of the disciples fled—every friend he had on earth.  All the official mechanisms which should have stopped His execution were twisted and distorted to bring Him to the Cross.  And there, in the ultimate of agonies, He cried “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Do you think He understands loneliness?

He understands; He also goes further.  That death was a sacrifice—for you, me and the lonely one.  He has reached out in forgiveness to all who will accept it.

We know all these things.  Sometimes, though, we need to be reminded.  So it is that we are taught to take His body and blood, ensuring that we continue to be one with Him.  If you are the lonely one today, remember:  He knows how you feel.  And he invites you to come home.

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