All the Lonely People…

“Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.
Look at him working. Darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?” – from “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles

After the Christmas Eve tragedy out in Covina (about 20 miles from us), I cannot help but think of the need for those of us who have faith, peace, and love to look to serve and help those who do not. How sad is it that so many people find themselves in desperate situations, unwilling or unable to get the help they need. Instead, they choose to destroy others on the way towards destroying themselves.

The gunman wore a Santa suit, shot the 8 year old girl who answered the door before shooting indiscriminately into his in-laws’ home, used a homemade blowtorch to burn down the house, and apparently planned to escape to Canada before choosing instead to kill himself. So far, nine people have died.

This situation is incredibly tragic. What makes this even more difficult to understand is that the gunman served faithfully at his local church as an usher at the service designed for young people.

Those of us who are church leaders have two problems:  1.  People do not want to hear our message.  2.  Those who do, don’t believe it.

How can this happen? A man who decorated his lawn with Christmas decorations at his house in an upscale part of Los Angeles county (Montrose) appears to have become so bitter after his divorce and losing his job, that he decided to bring destruction to others rather than the message of peace on earth he has most certainly heard at his church over the last several weeks leading up to Christmas.

We cannot assume that someone serving in a church or decorating their house for Christmas is doing ok. We need to ask questions – even if it makes us or the one we are concerned about feel uncomfortable. Too often, we all seem to be shocked when someone snaps.

At the same time, when we are struggling we need to be mature enough to ask for help.

Jesus really does bring peace in the midst of pain, hope in the midst of despair, and love in the midst of bitterness, but only if we let Him.

May God be with those directly affected by this horrible situation – those who lost loved ones or friends and those who knew the gunman. May we all look to help those needing it, and get help when we need it.

Showing 3 comments
  • Danny Lucas

    You forgot a verse (I can see why):
    “Eleanor rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
    Lives in a dream
    Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
    Who is it for?”

    That “face that she keeps in a jar by the door”….
    is the face people wear to church.

    And the rest of the world, beginning with our youth, can spot that face a mile away…..and stay away.

    The assertion that this killing was more tragic because a church person did it is beguiling to me. I have no clue how it could be more tragic were it done by a terrorist, a cleric, a taxi driver, or a coven of witches.
    I pray no one in the family that walks through all that death reads this post.

    “Those of us who are church leaders have two problems: 1. People do not want to hear our message. 2. Those who do, don’t believe it.”
    ~~~ Eric

    “Those of you who follow ME have two problems: 1. SOME people, do not want to hear MY message. 2. SOME who do, don’t accept it or believe it.”
    ~~~ Jesus

    He got His message across two thousand years of time.
    The bump in the road that stops His message is today’s church primarily in the USA. It appears there is a variance between the message of the Master, and the message of the recent day church.

    I wish I could say WAKE UP louder to churches and have them listen to the message they send….as it is received. The two are not even close. As a believer, I am also not the least bit surprised to find comments that vary from preconceived “Okay”, “Not Okay” are resolved easily by church leaders. Not by discussion; by the delete button. Problem solved….for the pastor anyway.

    Time to re-cue Eleanor Rigby and make lonely people anew.
    Next service at 6pm.

    Sadly, on the Internet, key words are used as “Alerts” and sent to milliuons at once. Many a nonbeliever will read this post due to alerts within and used. (eg. Beatles).
    They will read this, find rejection, judgment, false accusation, unsubstantiated conclusion or premise, and continue their life journey without Christ.

    The powerful name of Jesus is mentioned precisely ONCE, and in an anti-conclusion to everything that precedes the name. No one will get it. No one comes near.

    Do the entire post again.
    Only this time, write it as if you were talking to the people outside the church instead of folks in the pews.
    That is where the audience resides, including many pew warmers.

    I’ll come back and read it and give kudos to a message that speaks to All the Lonely People.

    The killer, btw, strikes me as more hopeless than lonely.
    Reasonably so given his circumstance.
    Lost wife and family.
    Lost job.
    Lost self respect.
    Can’t tell the truth about any of this to friends at church.
    Must use my face that I store in the jar.

    The difference between 1 and 2 above for church and Jesus was “Authentic” versus “Artificial and forced”.

    Given my experience with church blogs, your delete button is in your upper right corner. One who deleted, is a church leader with “Categories” of posts.
    wtf is a category with 3 posts so far.

    Tell me again, which gospel is it where Jesus proclaims “wtf” like this church leader?

  • Eric Bryant

    Appreciate the comment you sent regarding my post “All the Lonely People.” Obviously I didn’t communicate my thoughts very well. Sorry to have upset you so much.

    I made some changes to better communicate my point.

    If you have a chance to look around my site more in the future, take a look at the article I wrote called “Art of Woo.” The entire point of my website and book is to challenge people of faith to stop being so angry, judgemental, and hypocritical.

    Obviously, this situation is beyond comprehension, and I certainly don’t mean to sound like an expert at the causes. After hearing the latest on the radio and then hearing Eleanor Rigby on my iPod, I thought that song had an eerie similarity.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me reframe it!

    Blessings to you!

    Eric

  • Danny Lucas

    I took your advice Eric, and read the Art of Woo.
    It reminded me of two very different things.

    First, an Aesop Fable called The Wind and The Sun.
    Here is the brief fable:

    “THE WIND and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down
    the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide
    our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that
    traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded
    as the stronger You begin.”
    So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind
    began to blow as hard as it could upon the
    traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely
    did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till
    at last the Wind had to give up in despair.
    Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory
    upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to
    walk with his cloak on.
    “KINDNESS EFFECTS MORE THAN SEVERITY.”

    I appreciate your kindness over my severity.
    I will think of the sun more often than the wind
    when commenting anew.

    As the kids would say, OMG, meaning Oh My God.
    I’m learning.

    Second to come to mind was Jesus Christ. He asked
    we become salt and light. He meant flavoring this
    world with his tantalizing appeal and placing the
    Light of the World in ourselves as lamps….
    to attract others to us as a moth to a light.
    They do not even know why they are attracted,
    but want what that Light brings to you, for
    themselves. Peace. Bliss. Holiness. Serenity.

    Both of those conclusions come out of your post Art
    of Woo.

    Courtship seems to be an easier way of life when our
    world is moving along in the right direction.
    But the lonely people, the hurt, those in pain,
    choose options we find hard to understand.
    Some put on a Santa suit and kill the holy innocents
    in slaughter. Others, wear a mask to the world that
    belies the true state of their soul.
    How can we help people to be authentic all the time
    and take their masks off in comfort?

    We will always have loneliness, whether in a crowd,
    alone by ourself, or in a marriage. It is a feeling
    and just “is”. It is not right or wrong, just
    human.

    The cross teaches us a need for vertical relationship
    with Christ. But the Cross also has a horizontal
    beam. We desire relationship with others as with
    God. The Light from the vertical, determines the authenticity of the horizontal relationships.
    It could save a lot of people from being shot if we
    get this right.

    Best regards,
    Danny Lucas

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