God's Subversion of Loneliness
Beloved in Christ,
Loneliness is killing us. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently issued a report that called loneliness as deadly to our health and well-being as smoking. We live in an age when connecting has never been easier, and yet on the whole, study after study has confirmed that we are lonelier than we have ever been. Our bonds with one another affect every aspect of our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being, and nearly everything in contemporary American society conspires to impede it.
Pentecost, the major feast we celebrate this Sunday, is God's subversion of human isolation. It is God's answer to Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17, that we "all may be one." We are told that "there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem." When the apostles are praying, the Spirit descends on them like flames of fire, and everyone hears the apostles speaking in their own language. In the midst of that staggering cultural, political, racial, and linguistic diversity, Pentecost is the great miracle of community and communion. At Pentecost, God draws us from scattered fragments into the Beloved Community. (Incidentally, the mitre traditionally worn by bishops is meant to evoke this image, and is a symbol of the Spirit's ongoing presence in and with the Church).
But make no mistake, Pentecost doesn't erase the differences and diversity present. It's not that everyone speaks or hears the same language, it's that deep connections are formed across differences. The Church's mission is not uniformity, but community and connection. The Church's purpose is to join God's ongoing work of subverting human isolation with loving community.
This week, I invite you to pray, every day, for the Spirit to be poured out in new and fresh ways on our diocese. Pray that in a culture of exclusion and isolation, we might be agents of connection. Pray that our faith communities may be places of big, crazy, expansive, and life-saving embrace. Pray that you, and I, might fully take our part in patching the fabric of the creation God longs to heal in the eternal embrace of God's love.
Grace and Peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya