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23 Pentecost / Stewardship 2 - Luke 19:1-10

Saugus, California.

El Paso, Texas.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

Aurora, Illinois, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Newtown, Connecticut.

Pittsburgh, Christchurch, Poway, Ottawa, Dayton, Fort Worth, Charleston, Munich, Oslo,

Austin, Washington, Odessa, Blacksburg, Gilroy.

Thousand Oaks.

In every one of these cases, and others, the same sad refrain is reported:

The gunman acted alone.


I'm not going to talk today about guns, or why those who use them in these

rampant stories always seem to be male; you can argue about those things later,

in the parking lot or on social media.

Instead I'm going to focus on the word alone.


Nearly twenty years ago, Robert Putnam sounded an alarm with a watershed book,

Bowling Alone.

The title comes from the fact that more Americans than ever before were bowling, but far

fewer in leagues.

It's a window into a wider phenomenon, a precipitous drop in social capital, the fabric of

our connections with one another.

His extensive research revealed that we know our neighbors less, sign fewer petitions,

belong to fewer organizations that meet in person, socialize less frequently with

family and friends ... and these trends mostly predate the recent explosions of

social media and political polarization.

We are more and more isolated from one another.

This is why I am so appreciative of this social community here at Shepherd, and

why I'm always so hesitant to cut short the sharing of the peace.

Not just gunmen, but many of us are more and more acting alone.


A few of my best and most of my worst ideas happen when I am alone.

The times I have considered, even started planning suicide, I was acting alone.

I didn't bounce those thoughts off of others.

I kept them, and increasingly kept myself, hidden in solitude.

I am still the same overwhelmed teenager who escaped to his room and shut the door.

I usually want to be left alone, especially after I've been around a lot of people.

Solitude replenishes my introvert soul.

But too much isolation can be dangerous unto deadly.

We can too easily drown in the cesspools of our own circular thinking.

We need each other.

So salvation pays a house call to Zacchaeus.


Jesus does not let him remain alone in the sycamore tree or in Jericho.

He tells the booing crowds and offended sensibilities that this midget traitor is

one of us—he too is a son of Abraham.

This oily, friendless little urchin is a beloved child of God.

Even Luke probably can't believe it as he includes the story in his gosp