The power of simply being there

5/6/2011

The words flow easily from the lips. But are they also from the heart?
We are asked, on a semi-regular basis, to renew our commitment to support the church by “our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service.” It’s the Big Four of a vital, vibrant, healthy congregation.
Within the church we frequently talk about the importance of a healthy prayer life and the need for us to be good stewards of our time and money. We don’t often give the same attention to the importance of “presence.”
Call it the power of showing up. The older I get, the more appreciation I have for people simply being there.
Faithfully.  Consistently. Dependably. Present.
It’s not a matter of needing to share a profound message of comfort or hope at a funeral home or in an emergency room. It is being there. We might not always have great insight to offer in a Sunday School class or an inspirational toast to deliver at a wedding. It is simply showing up.
Do you remember the expression on a friend’s face when you showed up unexpectedly at a funeral far from home? No words are necessary. It is touching and meaningful when someone makes an extra effort to attend a birthday party, a wedding, or a graduation.
The power of presence. It is respectful and honoring. Unfortunately, it is becoming more rare. We are rapidly becoming a low-commitment culture.
Sorry, I am busy. I have obligations. Don’t have time.
You understand, don’t you?
As encouraging as it is when people make an effort to show up, it can be equally discouraging when people find any and every reason not to be there. I remember spending a significant amount of time planning a Sunday school lesson one week, believing it would be a particularly strong study. I couldn’t wait for class to begin.
Standing outside the door, minutes before we were scheduled to start, two class members walked past, heading for the exit in a hurry.
“It’s a nice day so we decided to get an early start on some yard work,” the husband explained, matter-of-factly, as he passed.
    I guess I should have been happy he didn’t say he had to get home to check the batteries on the TV remote. But the effect was the same. It is easy to get the feeling that there are certain people you can count on -- unless there is a big game on TV, the fish are biting, the apples are ripe, the lawn needs mowing, or the weather is particularly nice.
Together, as the Body of Christ, we are called to support the church by “our prayers, our presence, our gifts and our service.”
We don’t always have to possess all the right answers, write the biggest check or volunteer for every ministry. I am deeply grateful for those people who week after week, year after year, faithfully show up.
Their quiet service speaks volumes.


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