Yearning for Connection
May 10 Yearning for Connection • Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 • 1 Peter 2:2-10 • John 14:1-14
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
God’s love for us is everlasting. He had a plan for us long before we were born, and his love will guide us into eternity, where we shall enjoy it forever. He made us to be in a loving relationship with him, but that was not enough. We were also created to live in the love of Christ and the love of one another. We were created to be loving persons and to receive the love of others. God created us to have a yearning for connection, to love and be loved. This like the Garden is the ideal, and this love has been tarnished through sin (except for God’s love which endures unchanged forever); our love for one another requires constant forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal. In Christ, that sacred love will one day be restored and completed. For now, we love others as we are able, knowing that often we fail to love as we should. But that yearning to love and be loved lives inside of us, if only a shadow of the glory of God’s love. We yearn to be in connection, with God, those we love, those who have already passed into glory, and our inner selves that we hide from others and sometimes ourselves.
How the world has changed since I was a kid in the 70s. It seems like the world has been turned upside down several times, never to be the same, and the covid-19 pandemic may bring the greatest upheaval in a short time, rivalled only by 9/11. Those of you who are older certainly have other events coming to mind. Our relationships with each other may feel the same, but cultural norms change over time. Right now, we lament our inability to meet together and do things we would rather be doing. Most of us live a fairly blessed existence, thinking that is the norm, while others suffer, often silently. When I was still in elementary school, I had a friend who lived with his dad, with no siblings, and I don’t remember now where his mom was, but she didn’t seem to have any place in his life. Everyone else I knew had both of their parents at home. It was still a time when moms stayed home, divorce was not as common, and marriage still meant something even to non-church people. Today, it is much more common for kids to live with a single parent or in a household with stepparents or grandparents or some other arrangement that would have seemed unusual when we were kids. Today, being a single mom is one of the hardest situations to be in, requiring heroic efforts to support their kids, and for some kids, their mom has been absent or even harmful, due to the rise in addictions and other social ills over the past few decades. Most of us have fond memories of our mothers and others who filled that role, but it seems that these days, more people find Mother’s Day to be a negative experience, as they relive bad memories and/or struggle with that hole in their heart where a loving mother should have been. Those who were blessed with a good mom and others (grandmas, aunts, dear friends) probably cannot understand the suffering Mother’s Day brings for some folks, and we need to remember them, too, today.
The yearning we feel right now for closeness may seem sudden, brought on by social distancing, but for some, it is the norm. Too many kids are not loved as they deserve, too many seniors are lonely and neglected, too many others do not know the love God created us to experience. Many of us here can relate to such suffering: whether it be through loss or estrangement, or perhaps we were the ones who caused such suffering. But Christ died for all so that such suffering will end, and so we can grow into the fulness of God’s love. As is written in 1st Peter:
Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We have all felt loneliness and loss in this life, but God promises something so much better. We too yearn for that “pure, spiritual milk” that will help us to rise above the pain and suffering of this fallen world. It is available to all, regardless of your background, whether or not you had a loving mom. God’s love is freely given, but that does not mean we have no part to play. Peter tells us that we must grow into fulness as believers; note his words of our being built into a spiritual house. Upon Christ our cornerstone, our foundation, we are placed, not dumb rocks, just sitting there, but living stones, active in doing good works, and loudly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection to a world that desperately needs to hear words of hope and healing. As Peter was the rock upon which Jesus was to build his church, we are now a source of support and solidity to each other and to our neighbors in a time of great change and uncertainty. We are God’s hands, his loving embrace, his dispensers of love and encouragement.
What do you believe this “pure, spiritual milk” is? More advanced teachings, perhaps? Maturity? Spiritual adventures and experiences? In the end, perhaps it is a greater sense of connection with God, a larger taste of his love and grace, and in doing so, the ability to have deeper and more fulfilling relationships with one another. We love as He first loved us, and by being part of a church family, we are taught how to love God and love our neighbors (and ourselves) more completely. We may not be able to “taste” it together in worship right now, but we can through staying connected at a distance, and through prayer and reading the Bible. I for one get little relief through Zooming and other online “connections”, and using the phone just isn’t the same as being in someone’s presence, looking into their eyes and connecting through nonverbal communication. We may be separated physically, but we are united spiritually in Christ as God’s chosen people. We need that spiritual connection more than ever, as other forms of connection are not possible right now. As those who have been called out of the darkness in to his marvelous light, we must now do our part in sharing that light so all people will come to know God’s mercy, receiving his grace as we once did, and continue to do. One taste of the goodness of the Lord will make us yearn for more.
This doesn’t mean all of our problems go away anytime soon, of course, but we are there for each other when we go through tough times. We may have struggles within our church just as we certainly will outside of it, but the Holy Spirit will guide us into better times, and into reconciliation. Psalm 31 tells us that God is a strong fortress protecting us, a rock of refuge saving us. God is always there for us, comforting us, listening to our prayers and our hearts, loving us even when we are not actively seeking him. We are part of that fortress, built in through Christ. Our world may have changed overnight, but He remains the same, our solid rock. But He doesn’t do everything, He delegates work to us. He has created His people to provide care for each person when in need. Hopefully soon we will be able to do that in person, with a hug, a smile, a kind look. For now, we connect over the phone, by email, by letters and notes, and by praying for one another. Though distant physical, our hearts are connected in Christ. That yearning we have for connection will not end until we get to Heaven, when love will be completed. It is our responsibility now to make sure each of us is connected in Christ, growing towards that day when we can finally be with Him forever, united in God’s everlasting love.
Most of us are celebrating our mothers today, as well as those special women who made us who we are. They taught us how to love, an earthly love perhaps but one that hints of the endless love God has for us. Some people mourn today for that aching emptiness that should have been filled with a mother’s love but has left a void that we can only pray will be filled. Mother’s Day is a celebration of those blessed relationships, a celebration of human love, sometimes taken for granted by we who have had them, and mourned by those who have not had the love they deserve; that yearning for connection that we all have. May that yearning help us to have better relationships as we live out our time here, and may it inspire us to seek that pure, spiritual milk as we draw closer to God and let him teach us to love all people and Himself more completely.