That’s right, why not give your presence as a present this year. It’s pretty simple too, just go spend time with someone. Be present. This is not something you can get at the mall or order on Ebay, no it’s something you have to make a conscious decision to do. But I must warn you, in our busy, fragmented world perhaps presence is the most costly gift you can give.
As Christians our example for giving presence is the incarnation. John’s gospel reminds us that the word became flesh and as Eugene Peterson renders it “moved into the neighbourhood.” In Jesus God comes to dwell among people in the flesh. In Jesus, God gives presence. And lets not forget that the Advent season is also about Jesus’ return, parousia in the Greek, which literally means, you guessed it, presence. Athanasius once said that God became human so that humans could be like God. What he means is that we take on the characteristics of God. We too become present, incarnating, literally give flesh to, God in the world. We become the parousia, the presence of God.
Wha does this look like? Well maybe it means going and having tea with that widow on your street who just recently lost her husband. Perhaps it means volunteering at a seniors home or children’s hospital where you sit with people, talk and listen. Maybe you could enter into relationship with a refugee family and journey with them as they get adapted to new surroundings. It could be something as simple as making different choices as a family. Turn off the tv. Eat supper together. Skip that class, that workout, that meeting and just talk. Just be present.