5 Pentecost

Gen. 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67 or Zech. 9:9-12
Ps. 45:11-18 or Song 2:8-13 or Ps. 145:8-15
Rom. 7:15-25a
Matt. 11:16-19, 25-30

“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper as his partner’” (Gen. 2:18). “In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Alone in the morning mist, he was not truly alone. A Spirit drove him, a Father dwelt within him, and angels minister to him. “Go into your room,” Jesus says, “and shut the door and pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6). Alone in one’s room, one keeps company with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the hosts of heaven, and all earthly beings. In solitude, we may give voice to every creature under heaven.  There is, however, an “aloneness” that is not good, one that cuts off companionship when most desperately needed.

Psalm 38 is a lament about loneliness. “I am utterly bowed down and prostrate … My loins are filled with searing pain … I am utterly dumb and crushed … My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me … My friends and companions draw back from my affliction, my neighbors stand far off.” In a meditation on his illness and solitude, John Donne wrote, “As sickness is the greatest misery, so the greatest misery of sickness is solitude; when the infectiousness of the disease deters them who should assist from coming; even the physician dares scarcely come. … When I am sick and might infect them, they have no remedy but their absence, and my solitude” (Meditation V). An illness and loneliness without the comfort of friends is a deadly sorrow. We know this only too well in these latter days.

What do we need? We need the love of God in the perfect humanity of his Son. “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). We also need the love of our brothers and sisters. We need community and love.

Consider this love story. “Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, ‘Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?’ The servant said, ‘It is my master.’ So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.

Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her” (Gen. 24:62-67). This love-encounter is a type, an image of the love between Israel and God, between the Church and Christ. We encounter this theme also in the Song of Songs. “The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills … My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (Song of Sol. 2:10-11).

We need God’s love and the loving presence of God’s people.  Leave us not, O Lord, to suffer and die alone.

Look It Up: Read the collect of the day.

Think About It: Pure affection is an embodied love.

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