When I think of a good example of presence, I often think of my Dad. He was always at church. He taught Sunday School to children for many years, and then would join in the adult Sunday School class when he was not teaching. He was always socializing in the fellowship hall and greeting everyone. He would participate in a majority of the events at church including chopping up firewood for heat for families in the area, and helping out with food distributions. He was a lay leader for a period and would give sermons sometimes, and visit hospitals if the preacher was out of town. Outside of church, he coached high school lacrosse, and would pick people up on the side of the road and drive them where they needed to go. Just about everyone in the town of Bristersburg knew him.
The shutdowns of the last few years have reminded all of us about the importance of presence. I had my daughter (age three at the time) out of daycare for two months and she would be glued to a tablet because my husband and I were working at home. When we put her back in daycare, she was completely different because of the presence of other children and teachers.
We might not always think presence matters, but it does. Others notice if we are around or not. We sometimes think that if we show up for the church service on Sunday morning then we can just mark off the "presence" checkbox for discipleship next to our names. However, it is important for us to strive to be present when we do show up to church so we can see God's presence. We may not know what to do or how to respond in every situation, but showing up is a step in the right direction. We do not need to always say something, but our presence can have a positive and lasting effect on others.
O Lord, Help us to work on presence as part of discipleship. Help us to see how our presence affects others and what we can do to become more present to follow your will in the world. Amen.
About Melissa Hall
Melissa has attended St. Thomas since 2017. Her husband, Nathan, is the communications committee lead. They have a 5-year-old daughter named Everly. Outside of church, she is a software developer and she likes to walk/jog