Whenever I approach Holy Week and Easter, I am moved by the story of Jesus in Gethsemane. At what is the critical moment for Jesus in preparing for what is to come, he expresses a need to pray and asks his friends to be with him. The path before Jesus is one that he must tread alone: it will be a terrifying and very lonely journey. So in Gethsemane, even though he will pray alone, he wants company, asking Peter, James and John to be there for him. As we all know, they fall asleep, not just once, but three times. I wonder how far that compounded the sense of loneliness Jesus felt. Often during Holy Week, we try to recapture that experience by dwelling on the story and attempting to be with Jesus at that moment in a way the disciples were unable to. Perhaps you will make time to do that this year.
The Gethsemane story came to mind in part because we have been exploring loneliness through our recent Assembly and looking for ways in which we might be able to play some small part in addressing the problem that affects all of us to a greater or lesser extent. I was greatly encouraged by the openness and the level of engagement around the issue that was evident on the night. Thankyou.
As I mentioned then, one of the things we need to do if we are to make a difference here is to cultivate an emotional and spiritual commitment. That comes through allowing the Holy Spirit to touch and move us as we reflect on such moments as the Gethsemane story. When that commitment grows we start to find the energy to get involved and to act. It would be great to see a groundswell of response that determined to do just that. Then, in some small way, as people are brought into relationship with one another and loneliness is alleviated, we would see something of what MK: a City Alive to God might mean.
There are all sorts of things that could be done practically, from improving the welcome at the church door, refreshing the way we go about such things as coffee mornings or toddlers’ groups to starting up a more ambitious project (see, for instance, the Frome Community Connectors https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/21/town-cure-illness-community-frome-somerset-isolation) It simply requires compassion, a little courage and imagination and a lot of talking and listening. If you want to talk an idea through or develop something, please do be in touch with me or approach your church leadership.
Let’s see what we can do.
P.S. Summer coMPass leaflets out soon.
pdf version to download – Mission Partnership Newsletter April 2018