Originally scheduled for August 12
For many of us, loneliness is a commonplace of
life. Often enough this is through no fault of our own, but through
the various events of our lives. Many of you will know an elderly
widow, whose friends are long gone, and her husband no longer with
her, the very picture of loneliness. It is a very sad picture; I
would encourage you to do what you can to brighten it.
Sometimes, however, our loneliness is
self-inflicted. We are lonely because of the way we have treated
other people, or they have treated us. Most of us know people like
that; it seems impossible for them to have friends because of how
they treat their friends. Their loneliness seems insurmountable.
Worse yet, there are those of us who are lonely
with respect to God. The one constant lover of your soul should not
be a distant name but the closest of relationships. When you can't
talk to God, you are lonely indeed.
The reason, of course, is sin. Most of us
understand this when we offend someone else and they stop speaking
to us. Many of us have had a manager like the one who said, "I
personally will do all the thinking around here because I personally
have all the brains." He got to do all the thinking, including
asking the question why he had no friends at work. Offending others
breaks a relationship.
It works the same way with God. When you sin,
you become distant from him. You don't want to talk to him because
you know that he just might remind you of what you have done. As C.
S. Lewis once said, you want to let sleeping worms lie. But this can
be cured. The cure, however, is the one God prescribes: repentance
Communion is God's offer to restore the
relationship and rescue you from loneliness. When you accept
Communion you acknowledge your own confession of guilt and your
repentance. You cannot do otherwise; this is the body and blood of
Christ, given for your sins. If you say you have no sin, why would
you ever take Communion?
But see God's response to your taking his
offer. He does not tell you to sit at the back of the church and be
quiet; no, his response is, "welcome home." Every day he stands at
the edge of the road, looking into the distance, seeing if there is
some sign of the Prodigal Son coming up the road.
But you ask: how can I know this is true? The answer is in your
hands. Your eyes can see it closely. The cup is his blood; the bread
his body. They tell you of the sacrifice He made for your sin –
because He loves you. As you partake, confess your sins and repent
of them — and listen to God tell you, "welcome home."