When most people think about Christmas, many of our minds instantly go to the presents. Those neatly wrapped, colorfully adorned boxes invade our senses. Not only do we give them to others, but they represent ornaments on Christmas trees, lighted yard decorations, and are seen on signs all over town.
As wonderful as it is to receive presents from someone, as fun as it is to rip that paper off the box with great gusto, there is another type of present that can mean just as much to another and that is gift of your presence.
After all that is one of the gifts God gave to us with the birth of Jesus. God was now among us, giving us that gift of presence. People could see Jesus, touch Jesus, and listen to Jesus as he spoke. For me that gift of presence is one of the greatest things we can give to another person.
Several years ago, I was working as a chaplain at Tampa General Hospital. During one of my days to carry the Pastoral Care pager, I was summoned to the Emergency Room. A woman had just arrived in an ambulance with her husband. This woman had suffered a major heart attack and was not going to survive it. I was asked to come and visit with the husband. After I was briefed about their condition, I made my way to the room. I had no idea what I would say to this man I had never met. I entered the room, introduced myself and sat down. This gentleman never looked at me, just gave me a nod as I sat. I kept waiting for the right words to say, but nothing came. So we sat and I sat with him till the end. As he got up to leave, his heart breaking, his world turned upside down, he gave me a huge bear hug and whispered, “thank you”. He explained that just having another person there with him, was just what he needed in that moment, even though no words were spoken.
We each have the ability to give of our presence. During the dark and difficult times of life, it can be such an incredible lift to have another person by your side, even if no words are exchanged. To let someone else know we care about them, value them, and love them makes a dramatic impact.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave us his only Son” (John 3:16). That gift of presence, from God to all of us, God’s creation, cannot be overstated. This Advent season, I encourage you to find a way to give your presence. Be it through a phone call, a visit, or companionship during an errand or difficult situation, or even to gather around one another to celebrate a special occasion. Give your presence. After all, no one ever receives too much presence, it will always fit, and it will always be appreciated!
Happy Advent my friends,