Women's Ministry


May 2023

Never Alone

In recent months much has been in our media here in Australia about the problem of social isolation, loneliness and overall mental health. While most agree that the pandemic experience has contributed to it, depression and youth and rural suicide statistics were trending up before Covid-19. It isn’t a uniquely Australian problem either. The U.S. Surgeon General has just recently issued a health advisory stating that Americans are suffering an epidemic of loneliness and isolation; and warning that those feelings can take a real and measurable physical and mental toll.

Over a recent lunch with a university staffer, I was told the story of a uni colleague who had recently moved into a new neighborhood and how frustrated she and her partner had been by the difficulty of finding any sense of community in this new area. How do you do it in this day and age? She herself had grown up attending church but had long since given that away, but was finding herself almost desperate enough to return to a weekly service, not because she believed any of it anymore, but because she remembered with warmth the sense of community church had provided her family as she grew to adulthood. Isn’t that interesting??

In church circles that sense of community she was looking for is usually termed fellowship--but what is it? The online dictionary suggests it is the ‘relation of being a peer or a companion’ or ‘a friendly relationship’ or a ‘community of interest or feeling.’ Notice the emphasis on relationship, companionship, mutual interest or shared feelings or views, being understood.

We in this month of May celebrate relationship—the ultimate relationship—the life of Jesus shared with us individually and as a community.

The gift of the Spirit who binds us to him and to one another

The Spirit poured out at Pentecost brought into existence a new body covenanted together through the faithfulness of Jesus and the bond of the Spirit, welcomed by the Father. A relationship reaffirmed by the gift of the bread and the wine: his body broken, his blood shed so that we might become his body—he in us and we in him. And that bond of the Spirit also binds us together in such a way that the hallmark to outsiders will be that we love one another, so Jesus told us. Though many times we find ourselves wondering just how that works, or does it even work?? But it can be in water-cooler conversations such as the uni colleague mentioned above that we are reminded the Spirit is working and that impressions are being made when we least expect it.

We are not unaffected by the discouraging zeitgeist of the society we live in—there is much to concern us. We would be blind and deaf not to know or care. Yet God is working and we are promised that he will *never leave us or forsake us. As we draw closer to him, and as we care and pray for one another, the body is knit together – us to him and each of us also to one another by the Spirit.

Fellowship is being in relation with the Triune God and each other through the Spirit. Our awareness of being equals before the cross binds us to one another and gives us a sense of community that is unlike any other. We need not fear the loneliness epidemic as we are privileged to be covenanted into a fellowship with a Brother and a Father who understand us better than we understand ourselves** who will never leave us* and people who enjoy the same relationship – with whom we can share worship, burdens, joys, and support in prayer.

Photo: Michiele Henderson Unsplash
* Heb. 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” NIV
** Ps. 7:5 “the righteous God who probes minds and hearts.” NIV

Ruth Matthews