About thirty years ago, I began my first pastoral assignment at Lombard Mennonite Church, in Lombard, Illinois. Back then I was an assistant pastor working under the supervision of the two senior pastors, Joe and Emma Richards. One morning in the church office, Joe announced that after lunch, he and I were going to visit a retired woman in the congregation whom we’ll call Mary.
When we arrived at Mary’s condo, Joe, as the senior pastor, took the initiative in the conversation. He asked how she was doing. “Oh, I’m fine,” she said. In large part she was telling the truth: she had a comfortable home, a comfortable retirement portfolio, and lots of friends at church. Yet Joe knew, as we all did, that Mary’s husband had recently died and her children lived far away. So Joe gently probed a little more. “Really, Mary, how are you?” Finally she admitted that she was lonely. Life was good, but she struggled with feelings of loneliness.
- 1 Kings 19:9 - 18