Summary: Christmas is a happy time for many, but it is also a lonely time for many. For those who have lost loved ones, or are just feeling empty, this sermon is for them.
The Horse Whisperer was a movie based upon the work of Monty Roberts. Monty Roberts’ secret of his horse whispering involves his getting into the corral with an untamed mustang. And when asked his secret, he said, “the animals need to be with others so much, they would rather befriend the enemy than be left alone.”
Could you imagine dying alone? Glynn Wolfe died alone in Los Angeles. He was 88. No one came to claim his body. The city paid to have him buried in an unmarked grave. That is sad, but not an unusual event in larger cities. Glynn’s situation was unique, however, because he was no ordinary man. He held a world record. If you look in The Guinness Book you will find him listed as the Most Married Man, married 29 times … and he died alone.
A Gallop Report indicated “Of Americans who ate dinner last night, the percentage who ate alone was 22%.”
Mother Teresa once said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer. It’s the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted—of being deserted and alone.”
In many ways being a minister shields me from some of the things that go on in the world. But one area where it is the opposite, is Christmas. Until I became a minister, I thought that Christmas was a happy time for everyone. I was always in my little family cocoon and didn’t realize what went on in the hearts of so many. But for many Christmas is a sad and lonely time.
Just thinking about the church family made me think of several that have lost loved ones recently. Some have lost a mother; some have lost a father. Many have lost a friend. But even if it hasn’t been in the last year, the hurt is still there. In fact it is very fresh at Christmas.
Recently I was at the home of a good friend. They were going through a tough family situation … one that threatened to tear their family apart. At one point I was left in the living room alone, and I looked at the Christmas tree. I said to myself, “it is not going to be a joyous Christmas for this family.”
There is something about Christmas that brings out the extremes. For those who are happy, it is probably the most intense happiness that you have the entire year. But for those who are suffering and lonely, the pain seems to be worse in December. Sometimes you put on a happy face, but on the inside you are dying!
I have got good news for you. You are not alone. In fact, Jesus died alone, so you wouldn’t have to be alone. When he cried out in a loud voice Matthew 27:46
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It was the last time that anyone would have to feel that way. Some still feel that way … but you don’t have to.
The Hebrew name Joshua means the same thing as the name Jesus, the Lord saves. The words to Joshua in the Old Testament, I think can be the words to you too.
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua not only believed those words, he lived them. In fact, he had already lived them, that is why he was in this position. He didn’t worry about what others thought, he did the right thing.
This knowledge that God would never leave or forsake him made it so that he was able to stand alone, because he was never really alone. He didn’t concern himself with what others would do. He did the right thing.
Later Joshua was faced with a choice. This choice could leave him alone, at least in the world’s eyes. He understood that, but he also knew that he wouldn’t really be alone. So this is what he said. Joshua 24:15
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
Do you understand what he was saying? He was saying, “I am not afraid to be alone as you understand loneliness.”
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Those were words to Joshua that I think apply to all of us. But there is another time this is said that definitely applies to us. It is so significant that it is the last thing that Matthew includes in his gospel … the last words. Here it is: Matthew 28:20