As I’ve shared before, a column I read every week is Arthur C. Brooks’ “How to Build a Life” in The Atlantic.  Last week he had a thought-provoking column about loneliness and social isolation.* 

Brooks related that one of the features of the pandemic has been it forcing us to be isolated from one another.  Think about how communities can be resilient after trauma, both historically and in modernity.  Think about how Londoners came together during the German Blitz bombings of World War II to survive and then rebuild the city.  Think about how communities come together after natural disasters like floods and tornadoes.  But Covid?  This was a crisis that forced us to be isolated from one another.  And there is mounting research that we remain in a societal crisis of loneliness. 

More people are working from home (and often report feeling less connected to their co-workers than before the pandemic).  People now prioritize socializing less than we used to in the “before times”.  Though here’s something to point out from a public health perspective: research shows over and again that isolation is linked to both anxiety and depression.  Brooks relates that isolation “has also been shown to lead to premature mortality, worsen cardiovascular health, increase inflammation, and disrupt hormones and sleep.”  Bottom line, it is not good for us (on many levels) to be isolated from each other. 

Moreover, the two groups whose rate of unhappiness rose the most of late were single people and those who did not regularly attend a religious service. 

Worship is literally good for you.  I mean, I already knew this and maybe you did too.  But it’s worth seeing some research laid out. 

Over the nearly 12 years of my ordained ministry, I have joked that worship services I lead are just around 1 hour in length.  Because growing up, we had Browns games to get to in Cleveland during football season and maybe on a subconscious level keeping a worship service moving along is a way I honor my Grandpa Leon!  Seriously though, I do my best to get us “out into the world” in an hour in part because I believe that Coffee Hour and/or the time you all socialize with one another after a worship service is part of why we gather as a Christian community on a Sunday morning.  Gathering together isn’t just about worship.  It’s about connecting to combat the loneliness we may be feeling.  Jesus called us to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.  That whole loving your neighbor idea matters more than ever in these days of loneliness and social isolation. 

So, see you in church! 

Pastor Lauren 

*Arthur C. Brooks, “How We Learned to be Lonely,” in The Atlantic, January 5, 2023,

Photo by Sam Williams on Unsplash

Thursday Thoughts 1/12/23