My friends in Christ Simon and Sue Babbs just returned from their third trip to Madagascar. You may know it is an island off of Africa rarely visited, Simon and Sue not only flew across the globe but then drove many miles over rough terrain to get to a small city known as Toliara. In this almost completely unknown part of the world most of the people live hand to mouth. Simon and Sue have given themselves to support the Episcopal Church there and in particular the women of this impoverished country.
As they presented what they encountered on this recent trip- the truth of God in this world became so clear: Presence is the gift!
Recall a time you felt supported by someone. Yes it was what they did, yes it might have been what they said; but truly the magic of support is presence. A willing presence to be with you in whatever is going on.
Jesus sent out the disciples with ” nothing for the journey.” He told them to minister to people near them with nothing to offer; nothing but their open, hopeful, loving presence. Jesus knew that to be human is to be hungry for communion. Christians are people willing to cross the distance (whether it is short or far) and be with others because God crosses the distance and is in communion with us.
No amount of effort Simon and Sue put in could fix such a complex set of challenges facing such an enormous number of people in need. Yet their presence to each person in front of them set in motion a vibrancy of hope that goes on and on. In God’s economy hope grows exponentially, hope is like an investment that pays big, hope is spiritual fuel.
Everyone’s presence when offered in love is never a solitary gift but always the Spirit of God working through them. What God does with that gift we will never be fully know.
A few things to remember:
- Don’t hold back your presence. Be generous with your presence knowing it is God working through you in unseen ways.
- Your presence matters. Don’t dismiss it as not enough.
- When you offer your presence even briefly be open and trusting that love sets in motion Hope’s work which is always a gift- especially when circumstances are challenging.
2nd Corinthians 14-17 essentially encourages the people of the Spirit that wherever we go we can share the “fragrance” of God that comes from knowing God.