One of the more interesting sections in all of Scripture is some of Jesus’ final words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”  Peter Rollins describes this as divine abandonment – the moment when God abandons God.  As I have reread many of the Easter passages this week.  I am struck by how lonely Jesus must have been during his final week.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, people greeted him like a conquering king.  Jesus knew he had come to die and within a week some of these same people would be shouting “crucify him.”  In the upper room, Jesus’ disciples thought they were enjoying another Passover meal together.  Jesus was sharing some final moments with his closest friends who didn’t have a clue.  What emotions was Jesus experiencing as he sat around the table?  What was he thinking as he washed the disciples’ feet?  In the garden Jesus asks his friends to pray with him and these friends choose sleep instead.  During Jesus’ trial his best friend denies him three times.

Loneliness has to be one of the most painful of all human experiences.  I am an extreme introvert. I am good at being alone, but being alone is different than loneliness and loneliness is not fun.   Henri Nouwen describes it like the Grand Canyon – a deep incision in the surface of our existence.

Why is the call to Christian leadership and ministry also a call to loneliness?  This is the irony of ministry – we call people to community, mutuality and interdependence but find ourselves on the outside looking in.

In a strange sort of way it is the loneliness of ministry that opens up a space for community, support and unconditional love.  It is in our loneliness that we become most aware of our need for each other.  This dependence on each other is what builds the family of God.


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One response to “Lonely

  1. Duane Beachey

    I’ve begun to have serious doubts about this whole: “God abandoned Jesus at the cross” idea. The phrase–My God why have you forsaken me? is a quote from the psalmist who felt God had abandoned him. David has quite a few such Psalms, but usually ends up by the end of the Psalm affirming God’s faithfulness. Gad hasn’t actually abandoned him. He just feels abandoned in his despair and agony. In the same way, if Jesus cries out those words of despair and agony as he hangs in torture from the cross, does that mean God has actually abandoned him? The Bible nowhere that I’m aware ever builds that idea. Christians since have simply built that idea from that single phrase. In our theology God isn’t looking down on Jesus on the cross or turning his back to Jesus. It is God who hangs on the cross. If as Paul affirms, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, I think he was right there in Christ on that cross.

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