Today's message is below, based on John 17: 1-13 and 1st Peter chapters 4 & 5

The other day, Thursday, was actually the Day of Ascension on the Church Calendar.
Jesus had been with his followers for quite a long time…..about three years time.
They all went through a lot together, up to and including seeing him die and resurrected.
But now, as he leaves them to ascend to the Father, they are feeling sort of all alone.

Have you ever had that feeling….. the feeling of being alone?
Sure, we all have, in various times and situations throughout our lives.
Life begins alone as we go through birth and ends in a death that no one can do with us
And in between those two, there are many times when we are (or feel) all alone.

Sometimes being alone is good and restful and gives us a chance to reflect and think.
But I think the times we like it the least is when trouble or a crisis comes along.
As we’re afflicted by hardships, injustices, and pain is when being alone is the worst.
Its then that we look for, or wish for, or even pray for someone who cares and understands to be with us.
That’s when we tend to admit that, as independent as we want to be, we want help.

The letter 1st Peter is written to the early followers of Jesus who are being persecuted.
They are undoubtedly feeling alone in their trials and tribulations.
Many Christians in those early years were persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith.
And while that still happens in a number of places around the world today,…
today in America is nothing like those terrible days that 1st Peter writes about.

Yet, there are still trials and tribulations that we all face all the time.
Not because of our religion, but because (as our religion tells us) the world can be a tough and unjust place.
Its then…when you feel alone,…you can feel helpless and vulnerable and scared.
Even if we have friends or family around, we can still feel all alone in our worries and woes.

What we have to ask ourselves at those times is…..are we really all alone?

This time of year, kids graduating high school are thinking about what’s next for them.
Where will they go away to college or where will they work or live?
Will they go to a school or take a job far away or move out of mom and dad’s home?
One of life’s biggest dangers as they go to face the big bad world is,…will I be all alone?

What kids in those situations can have to counter those fears are the following -
First; they can have words of wisdom and advice from parents or other adults to bank on.
Council and knowledge that’s been imparted to help them when the parent is not there

Second; is an assurance someone cares for them and will protect them from dangers.
Even if the parent is not physically present, they can promise children safety from harm.

Third is the promise of a safe place to go home to without question or requirements.
A haven that one can retreat to from the worries and woes of a sometimes cruel world.

Before Jesus ascends, he says a prayer to the Father on behalf of his disciples.
What he wants for them and has promised them are basically those three things.

First, Jesus says that they now have with them all that he taught them.
They can bank on the words that came from God, through Jesus, to be of help to them.
Those words will give them guidance in times of trouble and comfort in their hearts.
Either deliberately, or sub-consciously, those words from God will come to their aid.

Secondly, Jesus prays that that they be protected, as he has already protected them.
His prayer is that after he departs they will not be alone because he’ll still be with them.
His love for them will be in their hearts, like a first aid kit in a backpack on the trail of life.
So that no matter how alone they feel in this world,…his divine spirit will be with them.

Third thing Jesus has promised them all along is that they’ll have a place to go home to.
A place they will be redeemed and kept safely in the company of a God who loves them.
A place he will be for them when the battles and persecutions and trials of life are over.
So that, regardless of how things turn out in this world,….at this home all will be well.

So for us too, feelings of loneliness do not begin and end when high school is over.
We struggle with the fear of being alone before and long after those teenage years.

And we too want to be able to draw from words of wisdom that not only guide and direct our choices, but which comfort and calm us.
And, strong as we all would like to be, we too would like to have a protector.
Someone who cares to watch over us, as a parent does when we are little children.
And, when the battles are over and the day is done, we’d all like to have a place to go.
A place that is safe and welcoming no matter what, where we can go and be well.

Through Jesus Christ, we have all those things in our lonely days and lonely nights.
We have the words of Jesus which, as he says, were given to him from God.
Words of God’s wisdom to guide and re-assure us of his forgiveness, love and life.

And, though Jesus, we have the promise of God’s constant protection.
His Spirit abides with us and and even within us somehow so that we are never alone.
Though we may feel like we are, God is always with us, loving and watching over us.

Last but not least, we have a place to go when the battle is over and the race is finished
A place where things are perfect,…all wrongs are made right,….and where we can rest
A place where we know for certain that we are welcome without question or criteria.

So I can’t say don’t ever feel alone in life, because we all will and do sometime.
But when you do,….remember that it really isn’t true.
You are not alone as long as you believe in, talk to and walk with God.
Because, through Jesus, he is there guiding and protecting and loving you,…..always.

Amen.