Be Present

Be present at our table, Lord;
be here and everywhere adored!
These mercies bless and grant that we
may feast in fellowship with thee. Amen.

These words to the “Wesleyan Grace,” sung to the tune of the old doxology, bring warm memories to me.

As a high school freshman, newly relocated from Maryland, I owe a debt of gratitude to the youth of Faith United Methodist Church in Spring, Tx.  They welcomed my brother and I despite our having a slight (to us) “yankee accent.”

Over meals together, this group sang the Wesleyan Grace.

Just thinking about that tune with those words transports me back – now almost 40 years! The acceptance that welcomed me into the church family, and into God’s family became an important part of the foundation of my life of ministry.

Consider the opening line of this song with me: “Be present at our table, Lord.”

We invite God to be present.  But don’t we believe God is always present? We even have a “big word” for this – omnipresent.

But inviting God to be present doesn’t mean we don’t think God is outside, awaiting an invitation.  Nor does it mean that in the midst of all the other things God might be doing throughout creation, we want or expect God to stop all that and hang out with us here.

No, inviting God to be present is a way of becoming more present ourselves.

I’m not the only one, am I, who is sometimes there, but not actually present?

I’ve had kids talking to me, and my mind drifts off into something else.  Maybe even something else important.  Then the child asks, “well, do they, daddy?”

If I say, “do they what?” or, as I’ve come to do lately, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.  What is the question again?”

I was present without be present.

In the world of excess we inhabit, it is too easy to be present without being present.

Let this season of Lent be a time that you and I practice being present for one another.  And for ourselves.  And for God.

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