Giving Presence in the Present
Christmas and gift giving, standing among all the stuff, the noise and the chaos, the potential frustration. Christmas has become somewhat of a plummeting oneself into the art of either grab and go at the store or park yourself in front of the computer and let your fingers do the shopping. My goal this year is to slow’r down. Taking time to smell the cinnamon infused pinecones, watch yet another Hallmark Christmas movie and listen to Elvis (my mom’s favorite, I turn it up so she can hear it up there with Jesus) and Bing Crosby crooning the oldies.
Christmas to me is so very sentimental. I gave my heart to Jesus on December 21, 1979, at the age of 16 ½ (the half counted back then) while sitting on the white carpeted floor of the Associate Pastors living room. (I had been visiting the lil country church) his wife Brenda lovingly, openly, full of acceptance telling me about Jesus and His love for me and what it meant to be a Jesus follower. That day will always render special to me, that moment and the moments following as I walked home, just down the street. As I walked, the Christmas lit houses took on a new glow, the plastic baby Jesus in the front yard demanding my attention and respect. That baby Jesus was no longer just yard deco, but now my Lord! Not just a baby, but a King! I stopped, pausing to take it all in, I was in the moment! Thirty-eight years later I remember the moment, I cherish the moment. The moment changed me.
How often are we somewhere else when we are with people or in circumstances or perhaps even in church? Our bodies may be present but by golly, our minds are full of grocery list writing, or a prior situation rehearsing over and over in our head, or while someone is talking to us we are busy formulating our response. What did we miss?
Be in the moment.
In Exodus (the theology of Exodus is Presence) Exodus 24, God called Moses up the mountain, “The LORD said to Moses, “”Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” (v12, emphasis mine, NKJV) For 40 days Moses was there. Eight chapters worth of divine instruction was given. Moses was there. Many translators interpret God telling Moses to ‘stay there’ or ‘wait there.’ Yet a 19th-century rabbi wrote from a different perspective which I adore. He exclaims that there are times we go to a place and not actually being there, going on to say that we can exert ourselves getting to a destination, yet when we arrive, our thoughts remain at the original point of departure. The Rabbi imagined God was telling Moses not only come up the mountain but be fully there, with complete attention, concentration – leaving all behind. *
May we too be there, this holiday season and every day, be in the moment, giving complete attention and concentration to those we are with and in the moment of where we are. It is a gift we give to others & ourselves when we are giving presence in the present, a moment in which we may be changed. And may we pay close attention and not allow our mind to wander when we read God’s word, we don’t want to miss anything!
For Pastors Ben & Brenda, ‘Thank you.’ That lil country corner church became my home church for two years following, then they sent me out to the big world to attend bible college, study God. Now a bible teacher. Thank you for being in the moment.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*Lois Tverberg, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (BakerBooks Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2018)