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“The Messenger” May 2024 Is Here!

Bethel’s monthly church newsletter The Messenger has returned! The first full monthly issue debuted on July 1. We enjoy regularly communicating church news and activities with you again. Stay in touch and up-to-date throughout the year.
Giving thanks to the Lord for Bethel Methodist Columbia!

Happy May!

 

All the lonely people. Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people. Where do they all belong?

John Lennon & Paul McCartney

It’s been nearly six decades since The Beatles sang about empty churches and “all the lonely people” who cling to and abandon these ancient institutions. Yet, it was just last year when Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General, declared “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.”

 

Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Murthy’s letter, produced by the Public Health Service: People began to tell me they felt isolated, invisible, and insignificant. Even when they couldn’t put their finger on the word “lonely,” time and time again, people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, from every corner of the country, would tell me, “I have to shoulder all of life’s burdens by myself,” or “if I disappear tomorrow, no one will even notice.”

 

Friends, we live in a world that aches for the Gospel. Not a gospel of coercion to correct dogma or judgment. Yet, a Gospel that will save souls – right here and now. The world aches for connection, for community, for relationship. The world aches for spaces where we are allowed to show up with our whole selves and find that we are together, seen, and valued. And, the research Dr. Murthy has collected shows pretty convincingly that when humans don’t have connection, their lives are shorter and worse.

 

One cure for the Loneliness Epidemic? Go to church. Faith communities offer one of the few places left in Western society where people gather across familial, generational, and economic lines outside the trappings of consumerism. The Gospel of Jesus is one of intimate connection – it paints a picture of growing closer to God through a Way that requires the faithful to grow closer to one another. Our Christian calls to worship, to pray, to serve, to do justice, to love mercy and kindness… are all calls to build and belong in community.

 

Priest and Scholar Henri Nouwen says, “Community is a basic need and hunger of the human heart. We are created for community, but often we do not experience it in the individualistic and competitive cultures that shape our lives. Community is a place of acceptance, intimacy, and vulnerability, where we can bear fruit in solidarity with others and be the body of Christ for the sake of the world.”

 

One final thought: Dr. Murthy’s study showed an alarming increase, “Almost half of Americans (49%) in 2021 reported having three or fewer close friends — while only about a quarter (27%) reported the same in 1990.”

 

Our number of lonely neighbors has almost doubled!

 

How might we be called to respond?
If community is literally life-saving, what’s our next faithful step?

 

I’d love to hear how you are feeling the Spirit call.

 

Always in hope,

Read the Messenger May 2024

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