In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
There are things that hurt us more than sticks and stones. Betrayal by a friend, rejection by a lover, or the death of a child all hurt far more than any wound to the flesh. So also jealousy, envy, and regret are more painful than broken bones and bruises. All the things that hurt our hearts hurt more than sticks and stones. And all those things are some form of, or are touched by, loneliness. Man was not meant to be alone. We cannot survive without companions. And to be cut off — whether it is by name-calling o the playground, prejudice in the workplace, adultery, violence, or hatred without cause — to be cut off, to be shunned, imprisoned, forgotten, or of no use to anyone, these are the most painful of our painful possibilities.
Our Lord endured them all. He knows better than us the worst of being human. He knows what it is to be let down, disappointed, and heartbroken. He was betrayed by a friend. He was mocked and called names and beaten. He was hated without cause. He was tortured until death. He had no helpers at the cross, no friends, and certainly no substitutes. He did it alone. This was not some vain stunt meant to impress us or or to gain our pity, but He did this that we should be spared, that we would not be alone. Thus does He say to the disciples: “I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you. I will send the Helper from the Father, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, and He will bear witness of Me.
I do not leave you as orphans. You will not be alone. But you will not be children anymore either. The Spirit, whom I send to you, He will bear witness of Me, and thus, by and in Him, you will be My witnesses. You will be My comforters, My helpers, those whom I send, My holy Apostles. You will extend My Kingdom.”
And that is the cure for loneliness, for regret, for broken hearts, for weary souls afraid to love or trust again. The cure is not the general benevolence of God, that God is basically nice and kindly disposed toward us, but rather it is the actual, historical loneliness and despair of Jesus Christ on the cross at the Wrath of His Father on our behalf. Our hope is not that God is nice. It is that by becoming a Man, by fasting and temptation, by bloody sweat and agony, by being beaten and killed and buried, by rising and ascending, and finally by sending the Holy Spirit to bear witness of Himself to us through the apostles, He has made Himself our dearest friend. He has kept us from being orphans. He has set us into families. He has declared us His beloved and we are clean.
Thus does He hear us when we cry. He sanctifies His Name in us by sprinkling us clean with water, by putting His Spirit within us, and declaring us to be perfect keepers of His Law. He puts His Holy Name upon us with His Spirit and since His Name is Holy we are holy and pleasing to Him. We are His people and He is our God, and His love covers the multitude of our sins. You are not alone. The Lord Jesus has ascended to the Father to send His Spirit to you. That Spirit speaks in His Word, in Holy Baptism, even in Holy Communion, and He delivers the Lord Jesus to His people. You are not orphans. You are not alone. The Father Himself loves you. Jesus loves you. The Spirit loves you. Your are not merely the Temple of the Holy Spirit, so also you are the Temple of the Son and of the Father. Thus does God make His home on earth in you until such time and He brings you to the home He has prepared for you.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Pastor David Petersen