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A warm welcome in an age of loneliness

Alison Williams, Southern Team Leader, 30/12/21

The gospel is good news for every generation – even those in a pandemic! CUs often hold ‘events weeks’ in a major effort to reach their campuses, but this year, many CUs will be thinking about about these Events Weeks having never experienced one in person before. So we’ve created this mini series to help with this, by considering the times we live in and how the gospel speaks directly to students in 2022.

A warm welcome in an age of loneliness

 

Part 3:

A warm welcome in an age of loneliness

Do you ever feel lonely? According to a recent all island report loneliness is an important public health problem, with almost half of the people aged 16–24 reporting that they feel lonely.

Loneliness is something we will probably struggle with at some point in our lives, and indeed it points to the deeper realities of what it means to be human. We are made for intimacy with the God who made us and with each other, but we lost that connection when we rejected God, and put ourselves at the centre of reality. Loneliness reminds us of who we are and the world we were made for, but it is something that Jesus came to deal with. He has broken its power and brings restored relationship to us.

Think about our last blog post about community! Jesus brings us into a new nation, a new community marked by other–love instead of self–fulfilment. Life in the kingdom of Jesus, is a life lived with others, this doesn’t eradicate our loneliness but it does give hope and healing while we wait for the day when it will be wiped out completely.

After almost 2 years of a global pandemic when we have spent a lot of time connected through technology but disconnect physically, the result is that our social battery becomes low very quickly. Walking into a room with lots of people can feel daunting, noisy and even stressful. It is easy to feel like we need people to look after us and give us special attention after all we’ve been through, and there is truth in that. But the reality is that all of us need to be looking out for each other and not assuming that someone else will do it.

 

 I have been to visit some CU meetings and sadly I have seen students who arrived alone and are left to stand or sit by themselves, without anyone to welcome them in. As loving communities, who offer light in the darkness, CUs should be the most welcoming place in the University, and no one should find themselves in that lonely position of standing silently, scrolling on their phone because a welcome wasn’t provided.

In Ephesians 2: 12–13

“…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

Paul calls the church to remember how they were without Christ: excluded! We know what it means to be outside of hope, outside of the people of God. But because of Christ, not because anything good in us, we have been brought in. This should have a profound impact on how we live, and how we treat anyone who is on the outside. We should be people who invite others in, welcome, include and share our hope. Any gathering of the CU should be a place of warm embrace for the outsider. This is vitally important during Events Week as you invite people to come to hear about Jesus. The welcome people receive will impact how they receive the message being presented.

So as you talk to your friends in the CU consider how you can help each other to provide a warm welcome for everyone who comes along. How can you look out for the person who comes by themselves? How do you start friendly conversations, and share your community life with others? Making people feel welcome, included and valuable is an important part of sharing the Gospel of Jesus on campus every week, not just during Events Week.

Alison Williams 

Southern Team Leader