Reflections for September 28, 2014
Recently, a church member who had been hospitalized commented on how meaningful the presence of the pastoral staff had been during his hospital stay. He was uncertain and fearful, and the presence of others with him helped calm his spirit and gave him a sense of being cared for and loved. A church member in one community was preparing to make a visit to a grieving friend. He wanted to know what to say. I assured him that he did not need to say anything, but he needed to show up and be present to his friend and remind his friend of how much he loved him.
In seminary we learn about the ministry of presence, but I don’t think we fully grasp the meaning and depth of this ministry until we experience it firsthand. Never underestimate the importance of your presence in the lives of others. Social media and email can be efficient tools in our day-to-day activities but nothing can take the place of a person’s physical presence with another. By our presence we are saying, “I am here. I am with you, and you will not face this alone. I love you.”
Never underestimate the importance of your presence in church on Sundays and throughout the week. There is great joy and delight in the community in one another’s presence. Last week I greeted a younger friend who has been away because of circumstance and illness. It made my heart glad to see him. We embraced each other and smiled and experienced great joy in our reunion. That is why we commit to being present when we join the church. We are the body of Christ; we are community; we are the gathering of the faithful, and in the presence of one another we rejoice!