The Bishop’s E-pistle: Emmanuel: No One is Alone

The death of Stephen Sondheim and the beginning of Advent have put one of his songs and an Advent hymn into creative dialogue in my head. 

The Sondheim song, from Into the Woods, is “No one is alone.” The lyrics include: 

No one is alone. Truly. 

No one is alone….

Someone is on your side

(Our side)
Someone else is not
While we’re seeing our side

Maybe we forgot
They are not alone
No one is alone
Someone is on your side
No one is alone

And this has been running through my brain along with O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Come, God-with-us, for the yearly journey into the incarnate reminder that no one is alone. 

That you are with us. That you are on our side.

And that you are also with those who are not on our side. They are not alone, either. 

But we often feel alone.  

I have been stewing over what to say, or whether to say anything about the verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse and Georgia murder trials. There is no verdict that can turn the clock back and restore to life Ahmaud Arbery, Joseph Rosenbaum, or Anthony Huber. 

But as Sondheim and Veni, Emmanuel travel through my mind, I have been reflecting upon the inherent loneliness of the vigilante: the one who acts because they perceive—rightly or wrongly—that they, and only they, can bring safety or righteousness.  And I’ve also been reflecting upon the inherent loneliness of dying on a street, untended by loving hands, or surrounded by family. 

Can it be that Emmanuel is with us, with them, all at the same time? And can it be our sin, our inability to sense and acknowledge Christ’s presence in one another that leads to these, and so many other, death? 

I take comfort this year in the promise of Emmanuel coming to redeem our sin.