I recently watched the film “The Martian” which is about a man being stranded on Mars, all alone, for a really long time.
He faced the prospect of never having human contact again, never being touched, never having a face to face conversation and never sitting around the dinner table with someone.
The idea of that should fill us with dread.
Yet here on earth, it feels like we live in a paradox. A handshake between being connected and being lonely.
We read news articles about how we are the most connected generation, being able to call or find someone from across the world. We are just a click away from another human being.
However loneliness still plagues us. We can’t seem to shake the feeling that we are connected but not really satisfied.
It’s the feeling you get when scrolling through facebook and you see pictures and statuses of other people having a good time. You’re sat in your PJ’s with baby sick over you while everyone seems to be living in a perpetual party.
From the outside you’re connected to these moments through a system of likes and comments but you are not invited in.
Then you upload our own photo’s, captured moments of life’s highlights and you watch it whirl in the system of likes and hearts, without inviting anyone to truly join in.
Technology is too young for us to see the consequences of this.
But it makes me think that we aren’t really like the guy in The Martian. We aren’t completely alone. There is a part of us that is always connected. Always online.
Perhaps, instead, we are more like the man on the moon in the John Lewis advert? A man feeling lonely, out of reach from society and can only look on from a distance. He has all his home comforts but he can’t help feeling incomplete.
So what gift was given to him?
Does anyone else think this is rather disappointing?
Instead of human contact, all he got was a spyglass to observe the world with. He could look on humanity, watch how humans interacted, how they formed communities and go through seasons of smiles and tears. But the man in the moon never gets to be part of the community. He is an outsider, always looking in but never belonging.
At least in the Martian, Matt Damon gets to rejoin earth again. The man on the moon does not. His story is over, left alone once again.
To me, this spyglass sometimes represents social media – a telescope to look in on communities without actually being part of them.
So, what would have been a better present?
I think the Aldi advert got it right. In their advert, their man on the moon got given the best gift – another human being.
The verse: “It is not good for the man to be alone” from Genesis 2:18 is really on to something. It isn’t good to be alone, man or woman.
I think we thrive when we are in a community that actually meets together, face to face. I also think this is why the incarnation of the Son of God meets a deeper need in us. He is the God that meets us face to face, he doesn’t send us a spyglass but he sends himself and then when he needs to return he sends his Spirit to be with us.
He is the one that invites us in to be a part of the party, not to stand on the outskirts unless you want to be like the elder brother (from the parable of the prodigal son). He warmly includes us and reminds us that we aren’t truly alone, even though we may feel it at times.
The valley of the shadow of death stinks and is a cold, dank place. But he is with us, perhaps for some of us he is a dim light in the pitch black or maybe he is a blaze that guides our path. Either way we have been given a better gift then the man in the moon from the John Lewis advert. Sometimes we forget that as we look through our spyglass, feeling miserable.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that we have been given the best gift of all, God himself and his bride, the church.