A Story of Presence
A couple met, got to know each other, fell in love, and got married. For a while, it was the perfect relationship.
But then one day, after eating his breakfast, the husband left for work and then did not come home that evening.
There was no sign of him the next day, or the next week, or the next month. Months grew into years.
Every so often a check would arrive at their home, which was just enough to keep the lights on and to take care of the basics.
Then, one day the husband showed up at dinner time. He sat down at the table and asked his wife what was for dinner.
“What do you mean, what’s for dinner? Where have you been?” the wife demanded to know.
“What are you so upset about?” the husband replied.
“I told you I loved you. I married you. I sent you money. What more could you want from me?”
Presence as a Means of Grace
It is from within the Christian faith that Christian experience gains meaning.
Our experience is not simply “how did that feel” or “what trials have I gone through” that typify the experiences of the world.
Instead, Christian experience involves the life-changing experiences of being forgiven,
showing mercy, practicing repentance, and participating in the means of grace.
Christian experience includes true poverty of spirit, meekness before God,
mortification of the flesh through fasting and denial of pleasures, and hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
These Christian experiences are both personal and communal.
It includes receiving the assurance that our sins have been forgiven through the witness of the Holy Spirit,
as well as the acceptance we find within a community of disciples who welcome us as one who is forgiven.
It is the experience of loving others “indifferently” simply because God through Jesus loves us
when we are fully aware that we do not deserve such mercy as this, but simply need it for abundant living.
It is the experience of showing mercy when we have the advantage over another,
and being shown mercy when another has the advantage over us.
It is the humbling experience of repenting of our sins by working to make whole those we have harmed personally,
and it is the confessional experience of the Church to work together to atone for our corporate sins that have separated us from each other and from God.