“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)” Forty days after Easter, as Jesus finishes his farewell to his followers with these comforting words, he is taken up to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede for them and us. We call today Ascension Day and remember with gratitude. The promise of presence “always” was Jesus’ closing words.
The gift of presence is one of the most wonderful gifts we can give another. So often words are inadequate. The pain of grief is too deep or the ecstasy of joy is beyond words. We try to capture a sunsets in paintings or sounds in music but somehow it always is a bit short and words are no better. We cannot explain how the awareness of God’s presence is possible. Often we use the word “miracle.”
Romans 8: 38 expresses this presence, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus or Lord.” This truth does not depend on my feelings. It does not depend on my ability to see or touch or hear or taste. Likewise it is not conditional on my good behavior. God does not reward us if we’re good like Santa Clause does and then give us coal in our life when we are bad. God walks with us through the ups and downs and “through the valley of the shadow of death.” He is with us always.
This promise is not place specific. Many like to have designated “sacred spaces” where they focus all their attention on God and their spiritual ears open to listen. That may be a church or a designated chair with a cup of coffee where we regularly meet with God. Jesus does not name a place but promises to be wherever and whenever we want to meet with him. Perhaps we are uncertain because of the silence but perhaps that is when he is listening the most intently.
This presence is not age bound like social security. We don’t have to qualify or wear a mask. We do not even need an intermediary present. God’s presence is with us “always.” We are not alone. We are not abandoned. We are not forgotten. We are not orphaned. Jesus promises presence “always,” even to the end of the ages! Thank you, Lord.