‘Presence in 2019’

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic Priest, professor, writer and theologian.  I first learned of Dr. Nouwen while in seminary and find his reflections very insightful.  He offers profound wisdom concerning a phrase he often used… ‘ministry of presence’

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them.  It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence.  Still it is not as simple as it seems.  My own desire is to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets.  It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not feel that you are working directly for social progress.  But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.” (Gracias: A Latin American Journal, 1983)

I am convinced that the key to the division in our country, our denomination, our world and even in our families is found in ‘ministry of presence’.  Unity not found in uniformity (we are all different and diverse in so many ways), unity found in relationship.  When we are in relationship with one another, we are living out a ‘gospel love’ that Jesus embodied and taught.

Imagine with me for just a moment…what if we decided that in 2019 we were going to practice a ‘ministry of presence’ with all who cross our path.  This is a daunting task for sure.  Taking time for others takes time.  That in and of itself is a challenge in our busy world and in our hectic lives.  But what if we choose to truly love others (both those like us and those not like us) in 2019?  We could be apart of a revolution…a revolution where people see people as truly persons loved by God.  A revolution where each person feels important and valued.  Being present with each other can make a difference in us and them (whoever ‘them’ may be).  ‘Ministry of presence’…What if?  May we all give ‘presence’ in 2019!

Always Thinking,


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