Show Us Your Faithful, Loving Presence

A meditation by Michael Pahl on the Second Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2020, called “Show Us Your Faithful, Loving Presence.” It’s a reflection on the story of Abram’s call in Genesis 12:1-4 and Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus in John 3:1-17, part of our Lenten series called, “show us…”

Here is a brief written excerpt from the conclusion:

Of course, the danger in telling stories like that of Albert Schweitzer, or Abram, or even Nicodemus, is that we might think, “Well, they were special—I’m no Abraham, no Albert Schweitzer!”

That’s true, you’re not. You are you, not anyone else. You are you, just as God created you to be.

But we all have times when God calls us to a new thing. A new home. A new job. A new school. A new neighbour. A new boss. A new teacher. A new reality in our family. A new reality in our health. A new reality in our church.

These new things bring challenges. They bring changes. They are hard. Even when these new things are good, even when we’ve longed for them to come, they are still hard.

But often, right in the midst of that new thing, if we’re ready to see it, God shows up. God shows up, and God invites us to a new journey of faith, a journey of discovery, discovering a deeper experience of God’s presence, a deeper understanding of who God is, who we are, and who God created us to be.

Here’s the paradox in this. God is “the One who was, who is, and who is to come,” as Revelation 1:4 declares. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” as Hebrews 13:8 affirms. The One who created all things in the beginning is the One who sustains all things even now. God is the unchanging God.

And yet God is also the God of new creation, the One who calls out through the Prophet Isaiah, “Behold, I do a new thing!” (Isa 43:19), and through the Prophet John, “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev 21:5). God is the One who has revealed God’s self in new ways in Jesus: John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made God known.”

In Jesus we discover both God’s faithful, loving presence at all times, and God’s invitation to new ways of being, thinking, and doing. Through the Spirit of God, the Breath and Wind of God, that always-present presence, that never-containable energy, we find the inner strength and security in God’s love which we need to walk through every new thing that comes our way.

The unchanging God has promised us, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb 13:5)—even through the changes life brings.

May we, like Abram and Nicodemus, be open to moving out of the familiar and comfortable places in our lives as God invites us to new challenges, new ways of being, thinking, and doing. And as we respond to this invitation, may God show us, as God showed Abram and Nicodemus, a deeper experience of God’s presence, a deeper understanding of who God is, and who we can become. Amen.

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