“For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?” (Deut. 4:7)
These are the words of Moses reminding the Israelites how faithful their God had been by being present to them as they left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea to Mt. Sanai and wandered in the desert for forty years. This was in contrast to all other nations where the presence of their so-called gods was governed by the location of their temple or an idol representing them.
As unusual as God’s presence to Israel was at that point in history, we are blessed today by even a greater closeness to God as a result of his becoming one of us in the person of Jesus. God is available to us today through Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit far beyond what people could have dreamed in Moses’ day and even what many of us may expect today.
We remember Jesus’s promise to the disciples just before his ascension. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20) But even more specific, he promised at the last supper, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (John 14:23)
Think of it. The God of all creation wants to take up residence in us! Not in a temple or an idol or on top of a high place; he wants to be present in us at all times! Then, there are of course the sacraments where we can experience Jesus’s presence such as in the Eucharist. He wants us to love him and the people in our lives as we love ourselves.
On some weekends, I have the blessing of taking communion to the sick, and to the residents of a local nursing home and the county jail. While I am bringing the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist to them, I also pray that his presence in me through the Holy Spirit will be evident by my listening, encouraging and praying with them.
Among those I visit is a beautiful lady who is 105 and lives with her granddaughter. For the sake of this post, let me call her Dottie. Even though Dottie doesn’t hear well she loves to talk and share experiences from her long life. She has a note pad with a felt pen for people to ask questions or write what they want to say to her, but mostly I listen. Here are some of the things she has shared with me.
“Love covers a lot of wrongs. I am not a perfect person, but God gives me a lot of love, so I love and that makes up for me not being perfect. I have found that it is easier to be happy than sad, and it’s also more fun. So, at my age, I just think happy thoughts.
“Satan is always hanging around to cause us trouble, but I just tell him, ‘Satan, be gone!’ And he runs from me. He is very tricky. He tries to get us to do things we shouldn’t do, but I tell him, ‘You get out of here.’” Her observations are in fact quite scriptural. (1Peter 5:8; James 4:7)
So, here we have God’s presence not only in the Eucharist, but also in Dottie and me, both bringing his love and presence to one another.