31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[g] you did it to me.
Much of ministry is inspired by Matthew chapter 25. Our church’s Soup Kitchen and Bag Lunch Ministry may find their roots there. Our Saturday Nite Live Program may be an answer to Christ’s command in this passage. And visiting those who are lonely and alone may be a response to what we read in God’s word in Matthew chapter 25.
Right now, there may be many lonely people in our church, our city, our world. “Safer at Home” may help bend the curve on the spread of a virus, but it also leads to isolation and some other emotional and physical ailments.
Matthew 25 was written in the days before COVID 19, the telephone, and video chats. As we ponder more hope for our days, let’s not forget that through the marvels of technology we can be someone else’s hope in these days.
Pray about those who may be lonely. Picture some people you know in your mind. And then plan a “virtual visit” with them. “I was lonely, and you called me …..” Thanks be to God.
In the Worshipbook (jointly published in the early 1970’s by The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, The PCUS, and The United Presbyterian Church), we find this prayer “For the Lonely.” The words to this prayer might be prayed well today:
God of comfort, companion of the lonely, be with those who, by neglect or willful separation, are left alone. Fill empty places with present love, and long times of solitude with lively thoughts of You. Encourage us to reach out to lonely men and women, so they may be cheered by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who walked among us as a friend, and is our Lord forever. Amen.