The Psalms of Advent, December 6, 2022
Psalm 21 is abundant with words seeking to be heard and treasured in the heart: rejoice, joy, desire, request, and love, as just a sampling:
The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
How great is his joy in the victories you give!
You have granted him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips.
You came to greet him with rich blessings
and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—
length of days, for ever and ever.
Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;
you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty.
Surely you have granted him unending blessings
and made him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD;
through the unfailing love of the Most High
he will not be shaken. . . .
Be exalted in your strength, LORD;
we will sing and praise your might.
(Verses 1-7; 13. New International Version)
The word that beckons most to me, though, as I spend a second day in this Advent psalm’s company, is presence: “Surely you have granted him (the king) unending blessings/ and made him glad with the joy of your presence.”
Presence is such a rich word. In a world where loneliness, isolation, and cut-off abound, presence beckons like a candle flame. It is a sacred gift we give another, the gift of our attention, our time, our love, our company, our selves. Sometimes words are not even necessary. Presence itself says, “You matter to me.”
When I think of the nativity story, I realize the importance and demonstration of presence. We find Joseph present to Mary, when he could have taken an easier way out. We find Mary and Elizabeth, amazed pregnant cousins of different generations, present to one another. We find angels (the highest of the high) present to shepherds (the lowest of the low). The old prophets, Anna and Simeon, share their presence in humble and faithful anticipation of a promise. And the child? He is named Emmanuel, which means presence: “God WITH us.” If Jesus offered anything in his ministry, he offered the gift of his presence, particularly to those who mattered to no one else. The season of Advent reminds us that he still does.
So, I reflected on who has been present in my own life when I have been lonely, confused, or bereft. Who are the people who have simply been with me? Then I thought about who I have been present to when she or he needed someone, and who, right now in this “happiest time of the year,” would appreciate my presence. When we are present, we bear the gift of God-Light, the same light God promises and shines on us.
Thank you for offering your gift of presence to me in this blog. I am so grateful. Blessings ~ Rosemary
Photo credit ~ Rosemary McMahan