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“Not the Sermon”

This Week at Trinity Beamsville

Dear friends,

My little one has been crying in the night lately, which is unusual for him. James has always been a good sleeper, but lately he is out of sorts. For a mild and content little guy, my, has he ever discovered his lungs.

Luckily, Mom knows all the tricks. Or, at least I thought I did. Rocking him in our nursery rocking chair and singing just the right song has always soothed him, every time. This week, however, as soon as I lay him in his crib, he resumes crying.

After playing this saga on repeat several times, we finally came to an agreement: if I will sit rocking in the rocking chair beside his crib, he will lull to sleep.

The ministry of presence is a powerful one. Just his knowing I am with him seems to bring the comfort he needs. Nothing else I could say or do would help. Nothing means more to him than my being there for him.

Have words ever failed you? This Sunday, we’ll be considering Zechariah’s poetic song, which came after a time when he was without words. Sometimes, often times, when troubles come into our lives and situations, there seem to be no adequate words. We may wish for the right words to come, but words so often escape us.

I just read a piece about “toxic positivity”, which is a well- intentioned attempt to put a positive spin on a situation, in our desire to help another person with our words. It invites them to look on the bright side of their situation, by saying things like, “it won’t always be like this”, “don’t cry, it’s going to be okay”, “think of all there is to be grateful for”. On the surface, it sounds fine. The problem with toxic positivity, is that it can negate the real struggle a person is facing in the moment.  It is often done because of our own discomfort with difficult emotions. Maybe you’ve been on either end of such a situation.

The ministry of presence is a compassionate approach, which involves being with a person in the moment, in their struggle, and letting them know it is okay to feel what they feel. It sounds more like,  “I see this is a difficult time. I am here with you through it. Tell me about it. You are not alone in this”. This approach tells people that we are strong for them, that they may be honest with how they are feeling, that they are not alone.

Because God didn’t say, “cheer up, kids! It could always be worse!” No.

 In the midst of our struggle, our compassionate God drew near, to be with us, to companion with us through come what may. This is what we celebrate at Christmas, that God sent Jesus into real time. To the bedside at death. To the sick. To the grief- stricken. To the marginalized. To the power- hungry and powerless. To everyone.

We’re on the cusp of Advent, a time when we recognize that the world is not yet all that it should be. As we wait in hope, we have the chance to make the world a little more as it should be, by bearing Christ’s light to a world who needs it.  As you begin to make your Christmas list, consider adding a column: with whom can I be more present? What would that look like? The greatest present we can give is our presence. In doing so, we are a living reminder of God, who is ever-present and always near.



Student Minister

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