A New Beginning, Devotionals, Friendship, Relationships

The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence

Mask on.
Expressionless faces.
Mask off.
Eat.
Mask on.

If you were in Singapore during the Circuit Breaker, do you still remember how it was when you were not allowed to go out? Only essential services were permitted. Restaurants, cafes and kopitiams were vacant, their entrances barred with red and white tape. Do you remember how that felt?

Everything “normal” became abnormal and we had to adapt, change our usual ways, and look forward to the day when going out to eat with friends would be considered acceptable again.

THE GIFT OF PRESENCE

Having formed several coping strategies for life under social distancing, some have now normalised this way of life even now that we are in the endemic rather than pandemic days.

In the aftermath of Covid-19, it has become something of a norm for some to attend church online. Words like “it’s just easier” or “there’s no difference” play on our lips as excuses to suit our own convenience. We think to ourselves that no one will notice when we aren’t around.

The truth is, you matter. So when you don’t turn up at church, it matters.

Each of our lives is a gift that God has blessed the church with. You being there, sitting with the rest of the body of Christ, listening, talking and simply being present is such a precious gift. 

No one else can be you.
You bring to the table something that no one else has.
You, being you, are a gift.

So when we choose to turn up at church to be together with the rest of the body of Christ, we are giving the gift of our presence to others. You may not think it is much, but it is. On the flip side, when you choose not to turn up, you are depriving others of your presence.

 

The truth is, you matter.
So when you don’t turn up at church, it matters.

EXAMPLE OF THE EARLY CHURCH

The early church described in Acts did more than just turn up once a week though. They were in the habit of meeting up daily to pray, eat, share all that they had, and simply be together as the body of Christ (2:44–47). There was a good purpose for meeting together physically, being able to look one another in the eye, perhaps join hands in prayer, and sit and eat together around the table. These rhythms of life, these habits that were cultivated with God’s provision, caused the church to grow. It enabled people to share their lives — the good and the bad — and let others help them.

Perhaps today, with our ease of travel, we have taken the blessing of being able to gather together for granted.

So, perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves, “How do we give the gift of our unique presence?”
Can we extend our hand of friendship and love to others and be present with them?

 

These rhythms of life,
these habits that were cultivated with God’s provision,
caused the church to grow.

OFFERING OUR PRESENCE

Children’s books often offer a depth of wisdom for life that are sometimes overlooked as childish or naive. On the contrary, I have gleaned much from these reads. I like this depiction by A. A. Milne of the friendship between Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet in this quote of Pooh’s difficult day:

“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.

There was a pause.

“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.

“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”

“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.

“What are you doing?” asked Pooh.

“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.”

“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”

And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs … he thought that his best friend had never been more right.

May we be like Piglet, offering our presence and being that “someone there” who says, “Come, let me sit with you.” Let us be in the habit of ‘holding space’ for one another by offering a listening ear, a comforting hug, and a place for another to be vulnerable. 

As God’s hands and feet and His bodily expression of love and hope in this broken world, let’s give the gift of our presence to those around us and so see God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

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