“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
Being alone can be difficult. It can be downright scary. Even the introverts among us can feel the melancholy of loneliness after a time. It’s this time of year, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, that loneliness can really do a number on us. The rush of Christmas parties and family gatherings can serve to magnify our sense of being alone. Being alone is not how we were created. “It is not good for man to be alone” said the Lord back at the beginning of time. We are social creatures; we crave community. It can be a spouse, or a sibling, or a friend; the bottom line is, we don’t need to be alone…it’s not good for us to be alone.
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is about to depart and ascend to heaven. He will not be with his people in the same way that he has been in times past. But, he will not be leaving them alone either. “I will not abandon you or leave you orphaned” Jesus says in another gospel. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” For Matthew’s Gospel these are the last words that Jesus speaks. Often times these words are said as Jesus ascends in movie versions of this text. It’s a profound word of Gospel truth for us in our time of need. Jesus will not leave us alone…he will always be with us!
You are not alone. Where God’s Word is there God is. When you open the pages of your Bible and read, there God is present with you. You are not alone. Jesus said that wherever two or three are gathered in his name there he is also. So when you go to worship, or when you gather with other Christians, there God is present with you. You are not alone. You will be my witness’ says Jesus. So to when a fellow Christian calls you on the phone, gives you a warm hug, a gentle handshake, or a loving smile, there God is present with you. You are not alone. “Just as you did it to the least of these so you did it to me” says Jesus. When you see that person in need, when you pass by the homeless person on the street, there God is present with you. You are not alone. “Take and eat, take and drink, this is my Body for you, this is my Blood for you.” In Holy Communion, there God is present with you. God’s Word is true. God’s Word actually happens. “I am with you always” says Jesus, and he is! He knows its not good for us to be alone and he does something about it. You are not alone!
Back when I did college ministry one of the simple truths that we found was that college freshman could very easily feel alone…perhaps for the first time in their life. Often they would come to church in the midst of this vulnerable, lonely state. In that place, for the only time that week, they didn’t have to feel alone. They could actually be touched by someone in the passing of the peace. They could have someone look them in the eye. They could hear a gospel word addressed to them. When I worked in the hospital one of the great needs for the chaplains was to go and rock the babies that had been abandoned there, so they didn’t feel alone. Left by themselves the health of the babies would decline, with someone rocking them they would thrive. When I visit in nursing homes some of the most profound ministry I’ve done is to sit and hold someone’s hand and read to them the psalms. This might be the only time all week these dear saints had someone take but a few moments with them. This is the awesome power we Christians have. We have the promise that God is with us always, but we also hold the promise that where we go there God goes with us. You can bring God to someone. Go out then taking God to the lonely world; and rest secure in the promise that you are not alone.