Summary: A sermon from the series: "Words from the Cross."
"Words from the Cross: 'Woman, Here is Your Son; Here is Your Mother'"
What makes us happiest in life?
Some people may point to fabulous fame and fortune.
But hands down, surveys show that friends and family are the real prize.
That said, researchers suggest that loneliness is becoming more common in the United States.
When polled as part of a 1984 questionnaire, respondents most frequently reported having three close confidants.
When the question was recently asked again, the most common response was zero confidants.
Research has shown that loneliness can impact stress levels, heart health and immunity.
But these aren't the only areas in which loneliness takes its toll.
"Lonely adults consume more alcohol and get less exercise than those who are not lonely," according to John Cacioppo, co-author of the book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection in an interview with U.S. News and World Report.
"Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue.
Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of cellular processes deep within the body, predisposing us to premature aging."
Evidence shows that loneliness can lead to:
• Depression and suicide
• Cardiovascular disease and stroke
• Increased stress levels
• Decreased memory and learning
• Antisocial behavior
• Poor decision-making
• Alcoholism and drug abuse
• The progression of Alzheimer's disease
• Altered brain function
Way back in Genesis Chapter 2, within the story of Creation we are told that God said that it's not good for us to be alone.
We are meant to live with others.
We are created for relationships, for community.
We are meant to live with others, where we can love and be loved...
...where we can find unconditional acceptance.
It is in healthy relationships that we find meaning, comfort, help, happiness and strength.
And the horrible thing about this is that there are 7 billion people on Earth, yet we all feel more lonely now than ever in the history of the world.
We are all being alienated from each other by computers, television, careers, business, and paranoia.
We are called to love God and love our neighbors.
But many of us don't trust our neighbors.
What are we to do?
One of the most beautiful things about Christianity is that it is about relationships.
It is about a transforming and life-long relationship with God, and it's about being in relationship with others as we worship together, learn together, serve one another, and reach out to those whom we do not yet know--those in need.
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning from John we see something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus, despite the agony He was going through on the Cross when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of His mother in the days and years ahead.
So Jesus committed Mary to John's care and John to Mary's care, so that they could comfort one another after He was gone.
"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son.'
Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.'
And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home."
Here Jesus teaches us...reminds us...and shows us that it is not good for human beings to be alone.
We are here to care for one another.
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on, everyone needs an outstretched hand.
In John's Gospel, there is usually a deeper meaning to what is written.
One scholar writes that both the disciple and Mary "represent the way that family ties are transcended in the church by the ties of the Spirit."
And, "in this case John intends us to understand from Jesus, that, as his disciples, we are responsible to care for one another, even taking on the role of parent or child or brother or sister to another who needs us."
Is there anyone in your life, whom you are not related to by blood that cares for you in this way?
Is there anyone in your life, whom you care for in this way?
Relationships are about give and take.
It takes two.
They aren't one-sided.
Notice in our Gospel lesson that Jesus isn't just calling on John to take care of Mary, He's calling on Mary to take care of John as well.
For we do find that it is in taking care of and looking out for another, that we find the other caring and looking out for us.
This is how healthy marriages work.
This is how healthy friendships work.
And this is how healthy churches work.
Listen closely how Luke, in the Book of Acts describes the very first Christian Church: "The believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers...