Wednesday Wondering - September 6, 2023
1Peter 4: 8 - 11
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 18: 20
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I have continued to think about this concept of presence in our lives. In many ways this week will be a continuation of last week, where I spoke about the assurance of God’s presence with us. I have to admit that it is challenging for us to feel that presence many times but there is another aspect to presence that I believe is just as important for us in our lives and I think that it raises a challenge for each of us. I would like to share with you a little something that I read a couple of weeks ago and it speaks deeply to me. To be perfectly honest I can’t tell you if this was written by the actual author, as no author was cited, but regardless it says something important to us. It is an interaction between Winnie the Pooh and Piglet in the Hundred Acre Wood;
“Piglet?” said Pooh.
“Yes?” said Piglet
“I’m scared,” said Pooh.
For a moment, there was silence.
“Would you like to talk about it?” said Piglet, when Pooh didn’t appear to say anything further.
“I’m just so scared,” blurted out Pooh.
“So anxious. Because I don’t feel like things are getting any better. If anything, I feel like they might be getting worse. People are angry, because they’re so scared, and they’re turning on one another, and there seems to be no clear plan out of here, and I worry about my friends and people I love, and I wish SO much that I could give them all a hug, and oh, Piglet! I am so scared, and I cannot tell you how much I wish it wasn’t so.
Piglet was thoughtful, as he looked out at the blue of the skies, peeping between the branches of the trees in the Hundred Acre Wood, and listened to his friend.
I’m here,” he said, simply. “I hear you, Pooh. And I’m here.”
For a moment, Pooh was perplexed.
“But…..aren’t you going to tell me not to be so silly? That I should stop getting myself into a state and pull myself together? That it’s hard for everyone right now?”
“No,” said Piglet, quite decisively. “No, I am very much not going to do any of those things.”
“But-“ said Pooh.
“I can’t change the world right now,” continued Piglet. “And I am not going to patronize you with platitudes about how everything will be okay, because I don’t know that.”
“What I can do, though, Pooh, is that I can make sure that you know that I am here. And that I will always be here to listen; and to support you; and for you to know that you are heard.”
“I can’t make those Anxious Feelings go away, not really.”
“But I can promise you that, all the time I have breath in my body….you won’t ever need to feel those Anxious Feelings alone.”
And it was a strange thing, because even as Piglet said that, Pooh could feel some of those Anxious Feelings start to loosen their grip on him; could feel one or two of them start to slither away into the forest, cowed by his friend, who sat there next to him.
Pooh thought he had never been more grateful to have Piglet in his life.
There is a hymn that has been sung that has a line that goes something like this, “Christ has no body now but yours.” It speaks to the presence of God through the presence of us. It speaks to the fact that God can, and does, come to us in many different ways. God can come to us in the presence of those around us; in a hug; in a touch; in a smile; in someone just listening. This is the presence that is in the story, but the challenge for us is to be that presence without the need to fix. Quite often we might be hesitant to be that presence for someone because we are afraid that there is nothing that we can do to ‘help.’ The story reminds us that we don’t have to help, we just have to ‘be.’ We just have to enter into those places of doubt, fear, anxious feelings, grief, loneliness, so that those who are there know that they are not alone. We are also called to allow others to enter into those places in our lives, so that the presence of God might be felt through them. It is our calling as Christians to be that calming presence of God in the lives of those who might need it, and to allow others to be that same presence in our lives when we need. In this way we are blessed, we know that we are not alone, and we know that we are loved.
God of infinite presence, please help us to feel you in our lives in all the ways that you come to us. Give us the courage and the strength to be your presence for others in the midst of their struggles. Help us to see that our role is not to fix, but rather just too ‘be’ with them so that they don’t feel alone. Help us to be vulnerable enough to allow others to come into our lives and be your presence for us when we need to feel you. We ask this in the name of the one who gave all for us, your son, Jesus. Amen.