At this hurried time of year we rush here and there with our shopping lists, food preparations, and Christmas pageants or concerts. When I had children at home, I set aside their school time for my hunting trips to the mall. When they were home, I had food to prepare for neighbors and friends, gifts to wrap, and places to be.
As I look back, those days felt frantic and stressful rather than filled with the peace of Christ. I missed the present of the presence of God, and I failed to give the gift of my presence to those around me. Can you relate? How do we overcome the busyness and find the present of presence?
Jesus came into the world at Christmas to be present with his people in human form. “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel” which means “God with us,” (Matt. 1:23).
As I read the gospels, I am amazed at how present Jesus was in every moment with those around him. He wasn’t hurried or stressed; his attention was in the here and now with each person he met, dealing with their needs, both physically and spiritually. Despite having travel plans, sermons to preach, and people to heal, Jesus took time for what seems to be interruptions and side-tracks.
As I focus on Advent, I want to notice his presence in my life. How has Jesus been with me this year? Am I attentive to his presence today? Am I spending time listening to him through his word and in silence during Advent?
I also want to be more present with those around me as my gift to them. Instead of a December characterized by hurry, I want it to embody peace and love. To get there I will have to focus on the moment at hand. When I am with someone, my attention should be wholly on her. When I am shopping or cooking alone, I can concentrate on the task. But when I am with others, I should be fully and completely focused on giving them the gift of my presence, which may be the most precious present I can give this year.
That means trusting God with my time and my tasks, just as I do when I enjoy a Sabbath rest. What doesn’t get done may not need to get done. What I am able to do and still be truly present with others is what God would have me do.
What ways have you found to savor the presence of Christ each day and to be wholly present to those whom you love? What a Christmas it will be if we enjoy both aspects of present of presence!