July/August 2018

It seems summer has finally arrived and we have come to that time when the magazine is a double issue. It is almost a year since I took office. It has been a year of getting to know new faces, names and forming new relationships. Thank you so much for the welcome I have received in each of the three villages. There is a lot more for me to learn about English village life. There is so much tradition and culture.  Whilst it is not particular to village life, one of the things that has occupied my mind is the subject of loneliness. I am just surprised that it is an issue when we are more connected than ever; the world has never been so connected as it is now. Technology has made it possible to stay in touch with anyone no matter where they live. More than ever before people use the internet, use social networks – including a fair portion of the elderly. Some can’t even imagine their daily routine without being online and feel incomplete if they don’t chat with their friends and don’t see their updates on Facebook at least once a day. Although it seems that we are never alone because of technology, yet, we are lonelier than ever. There have been many studies showing that the number of people who feel lonely is constantly increasing. For example, the Mental Health Foundation found that about a tenth of the people in the UK often feel lonely.  Loneliness is not only about being alone – a dose of solitude is often healthy. Loneliness, as I see it, is about not being truly connected on an emotional level. The American actor Robin Williams famously said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.” One can be in a crowded social gathering and yet feel lonely. The causes of loneliness are complex and multifaceted. Mental Health Foundation literature is good place to start. However, we can all help ourselves by forming good friendships. It is amazing that Jesus the son of God whilst on earth formed good friendships. He had the twelve disciples. One famously betrayed him (Judas). Another denied that he knew him (Peter). However, Jesus knew He was never alone. He said this to the disciples when he knew what was going to happen to him in the future. "But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." Jesus had been left alone to face His trials. His best friends, the disciples, had forsaken Him. Yet, He knew His Father was with Him and that gave Him hope.   In the coming year we are hoping to address loneliness in our three churches. I think we need to start the conversation. Let’s talk; it helps.