The Ministry of Presence

Mar. 24, 2012

Luke 23:27-31

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed! Then ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Maybe you are thinking: “What? None of this makes sense!” Or “You’ve got to be kidding me! Jesus wasn’t a woman. How can he ever know what it’s like to bear children!” Or “THIS is why I don’t read the Bible.  I can’t relate to it!”

And you are all right. Jesus’ words do not make sense to us.

Before giving up completely, let’s try to see if there is something we can grasp out of this. Who might be the loudest mourner, the person who would be experiencing almost as much pain as Jesus through this whole ordeal? His mother Mary. While we aren’t told specifically that Mary is part of this group, we know she was present at the crucifixion. I’m guessing there is a good chance she was present along the path to Golgotha. And I’m guessing her closest friends were with her, wailing along side of her. That’s what friends do when a friend looses a loved one.

Just a couple weeks ago, my oldest friend, Pam, lost her Dad. Pam is not my oldest friend in age; she’s my oldest friend in length of time. When my parents moved to Wisconsin in the early 1960’s, some of the first people they met were Pam’s parents. They met at the little Augusta EUB church. Pam was born four months before I was in September. She was the last baby baptized in the little EUB church, which closed the end of the year. It merged with the Augusta Methodist Church, which eventually became the Augusta United Methodist Church. I was the first baby baptized at the conjoined church. That’s how long we’ve been friends.

Rick and I went to Pam’s Dad’s visitation and funeral. After the service on the way home, Rick commented about how impressed he was that so many of my high school classmates and friends came to either the visitation or funeral. But that’s what friends do. One of the most important lessons I have learned as a pastor is that ministry is often less about what is spoken and often more about presence.

Sometimes, people tell me that they don’t know if they should go to a funeral, call someone or stop by a friend’s house when a friend is going through a terrible time. The most common reason why they don’t know if they should go? They don’t know what to say. I try to encourage them and simply be present. Words aren’t always necessary.  Sometimes fewer words are even better.

Mary is enduring the great sadness, heartache and grief mother’s experience that looses a child. Her soul will be parched completely dry through the next several hours. But her soul will be covered. She will not be alone for God will be with her. But sometimes God needs assistants. Mary had them in the other women who mourned and wailed with her. I’m confident their presence was meaningful for her. Let us not be afraid to be God’s assistants and just be present.

Let us pray: It is well, it is well. It is well, it is well with my soul. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

2 Replies to “The Ministry of Presence”

  1. My friends coming meant to much to me. I very thankful and blessed with my oldest friend and all the friends that came after!!!! Love ya!

  2. My friends coming meant so much to me. I am very thankful and blessed with my oldest friend and all the friends that came after!!!! Love ya!

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