Today I want you to settle in for a short story. First, you can let your mind wander back to a time in your childhood or when you were a young parent yourself and took the time to listen to or read a story with someone you love. There, the stage is set. Now draw in a deep breath and try to remember the beloved characters of Winnie the Pooh. Here is an excerpt from the great A.A. Milne:
It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn't heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore's stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.
"Hello Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet," said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.
"We just thought we'd check in on you," said Piglet, "because we hadn't heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay."
Eeyore was silent for a moment. "Am I okay?" he asked, eventually. "Well, I don't know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That's what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven't bothered you. Because you wouldn't want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now."
Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.
Eeyore looked at them in surprise. "What are you doing?"
"We're sitting here with you," said Pooh, "because we are your friends. And true friends don't care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are."
"Oh," said Eeyore. "Oh." And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.
Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less. (A.A. Milne, E.H. Shephard)
This time of year can draw up many emotions. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, kids are back to school, and here, in the midwest, we are back to routines…but bundled up and cold. Some people may even be suffering FROM a cold.
It is a time many of us draw in close and perhaps keep to ourselves a little more because getting out is a bit more difficult. Seasonal Affective Disorder can touch otherwise joyful hearts and nag at hopes trying to find wings.
While any and all feelings are valid and deserve to be felt, our God did not intend for us to live alone. It is written in the very FIRST book of the bible that He didn’t. He made all of creation and thought that it was still missing something…and so God said “I will make a helper who is just right for man.” (Gen 2:18)
We are each others’ helpmates, confidants, uplifters, listeners, encouragers…Here on the mat in this room, but also off the mat, with a phone call or a visit, or a date for lunch, or anytime we are called to be, JUST BE with a friend…no more, no less.
Friends, we are tasked with this: to love one another as He has loved us!
What does it look like to be each others’ helpmates? What does it look like to love each other as He loved us?
Like a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in safety to venture out to find one who is lost?
Like a holy Man who eats and drinks and visits among sinners, those on the fringe?
Like a Beloved Son who lays down His life on the cross for His friends to have a chance at eternal life?
Like couple of friends finding their buddy in the Hundred Acre Wood needing silent support for no particular reason at all?