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Are you lonely?

Since COVID hit in 2020, the accompanying lockdowns have disrupted the social life of people around the world.

This included stopping church services which subsequently moved to online ministry. And while online services served as a temporary stop gap, God never intended this to be permanent.

Humans are social creatures. We need community. We require interaction with real people to be healthy.

Recently, Dr Lalitaa Suglani, a psychologist from Britain shared 12 signs that may suggest you are struggling with loneliness:

The Daily Mail provided a list of these 12 indicators:

“1. Disconnecting from loved ones.

2. You constantly feel tired/exhausted.

3. You feel a loss of ‘purpose’.

4. You find yourself taking really long and hot showers.

5. You can’t stop binge-watching shows.

6. You lack motivation/are unproductive.

7. Spending lots of time on social media.

8. Feeling like ‘everything’ is an effort.

9. You have feelings of restlessness.

10. You have a negative self-image and find yourself frequently self-doubting.

11. You can appear withdrawn or moody.

12. You can have a disruption in your sleep patterns or eating habits.”

I believe the church has an important role to play in dealing with the problem of loneliness. This is particularly significant in a world where friends are defined as social media connections, not by real people interactions.

When we look at the early church recorded in the Book of Acts, a big part of their ministry included community. We read that their church services often revolved around eating a meal together (Acts 2:46, Acts 20:11, 1 Corinthians 11:20-34).

At the end of the meal, the group would then celebrate the Eucharist. This was patterned off the last supper, when Christ and the disciples ate together before having the first communion (Luke 22:15-19).

These meals were referred to as “Love (Agape) Feasts”, and they were not just spiritual gatherings, but expressions of community as well.

And though this was the Apostolic pattern for church services in the Book of Acts, after the last of the Apostle died off, over the next couple centuries we see a gradual end of these love feasts, associated with communion.

The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity offers this explanation on why the love or Agape feasts ended:

“Eventually, abuses, coupled with imperial rescripts forbidding the meals of secret societies, brought about the separation of the fraternal meal (agape) and Eucharist, but not everywhere and not at once. In Ignatius (ca. 110), for instance, the celebration of the agape is related to but distinct from the Eucharist; so also, the Didache. In Justin Martyr, the Eucharist seems to have absorbed the fraternal functions characteristic of agape. …On the other hand, in Clement’s Alexandria (ca. 200) agape and Eucharist are joined, in spite of the signal abuses to which Clement gives witness.

“There is general agreement that from the mid-third century, agape and Eucharist go their separate ways.”
[p. 17]

READ: Are YOU lonely? Psychologist reveals 12 subtle signs – and the reason other people might not notice AND Love Feast

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