In the fall of 2023 a Meta-Gallup survey found that nearly 1 out of every 4 people feel lonely. The survey was taken in 142 countries, involved about 1,000 people per country, and found that 24% of people age 15 and older said they felt very lonely or fairly lonely.
The question they were asked was simply, “How lonely do you feel?”
Young adults had the highest rate of loneliness, with 27% reporting very lonely or fairly lonely feelings. And the lowest rate was older adults, in which only 17% reported lonely feelings. A clear majority of people under age 45 reported feeling at least a little lonely.
You can read more about this survey here.
The Beatles asked the question, of course. Ahh, look at all the lonely people. Where do they all belong?
And of course, the church should be the answer to that question. The church should be the place where all the lonely people belong. I say “should be” because we don’t always do very well with that. The soaring language of Ephesians 4 is largely aspirational rather than descriptive. “…there is one body, and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism …” It is fitting to have this ideal to strive for, and our persistent effort must be focused in that direction, certainly.
And, thanks be to God, there is grace. For those seasons when, in spite of our best efforts, we do not attain that lofty standard, there is grace. We are forgiven, and given a new opportunity to try again.
This weekend we will celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion in worship together. What more apt expression of belonging is there than the sacred table? Come to church this weekend, my friends, lonely or otherwise. Come to the place where you belong.