Can you see them? Do you know who they are? They sit among us in the congregation, sometimes at the heart of the body, sometimes on the fringes. They worship on Sundays and gather for Bible studies. Some come to events and activities, hoping that maybe if they come enough and do enough, they will start to belong.
You're part of the church, we say. They smile and nod. How they desperately want to believe that it's true — true that they belong, true that the local church feels like home, truly among brothers and sisters in Christ, truly no longer invisible as they are every place else they turn.
But if we're honest, too often this is not true for those among us who are widows and widowers, orphans and strangers, parents without children and children without parents. They feel so alone — in life and even in the body of Christ.
Look with the Eyes of the Lord
As the church gathers this weekend, try to look around with the eyes of Christ. You may be amazed at what you see.
For the widow who sits in the same pew each Sunday, the dullest, most ordinary order of worship is full of life compared to the home from which she came and will soon return. It sits quiet and empty day after day. Pictures of her husband adorn the walls, subtle reminders of what she no longer has. She misses the joy of companionship. The loneliness is a fog she can't seem to break through.
Nearby sit the parents of a child who’s run away. Their home is broken in a different way, but it’s no less broken. They call. She doesn’t answer. They pray. She doesn't come home. Every time she updates her Facebook they are flooded with emotion — joy that she is alive, sadness at what’s been lost, anxiety about what lies ahead. Sunday is their respite as they fight for faith in God’s goodness.
Behind them sits the fifteen-year-old boy, the only Christian in his house. Every word he hears from the pulpit encourages a life that is vastly different from the one at home. The tension in his family is palpable, and his faith is the source. Even to be here on Sunday is against the grain of everything else in his life. Was being here just a huge mistake?