Taking Time is a Gift

1 Peter 5:1-5
 
Tending the Flock of God
 
Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
 

“God opposes the proud,

    but gives grace to the humble.”
 

 

A leader who has no one following him is just a guy out for a walk, yes?

 

In my faith journey, and I imagine this is the case for many of you as well, the leaders that have been the most influential in my life have been those who have walked with me. As stated in our reading, it is those who do not lord it over those in their charge, but are examples to the flock.

 

Before I entered seminary, a mentor of mine shared with me that his approach to ministry had been to offer a ministry of presence. He not only talked about it, but he lived it in his pastoral office. He made sure he was there for surgeries and crises, as well as joys and celebrations. It’s a ministry of presence.

 

These past few months have made that ministry difficult. Being present is not permitted in many of those times when presence is so important. I don’t need to tell you that not being physically present has been a major hassle for all of us – be it family, friends, life events, schools, vacations and more.

 

We have tried to figure out other ways to be present. Who knew we would all be pros at Zoom meetings, let alone know what a Zoom meeting is before all this started? We know how to mute ourselves, and have come to wish others knew how to do it, too!

 

We have found a phone call to be more of a joy than a hassle. We have come to cherish the times we can get together, even when we have to wear a mask and must refrain from embracing those we love.

 

The gift of Jesus Christ is that God was willing to enter our realm as one of us, and be present with us, abide with us, and walk with us. Emmanuel, God With Us. To abide means “to set up residence next to” – a ministry of presence. That gift is given to show us how much God loves us. For Jesus came to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, and yes, touch the untouchable.

 

You and I can be present for each other, even when we cannot be physically present. To offer a listening ear that is willing to listen without concern about what to say after the other is done speaking – just to listen, and to let the one you are hearing know that you hear what is being said. That is being present. That is a gift.

 

Sending a text or an email or calling someone just to say, “HI!” is being present. That is a gift.

 

Taking time to put your own agenda aside for the time of another is a gift of being present. That is a gift.

 

Taking time to pray is the way we can allow God to be present with us. Listen, God is calling. Consider it a gift!

 

Let us pray:

Thank you, God, for listening to me, walking with me, loving me. May I offer the same gift to others. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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