Presents

Over the past few years I’ve noticed that more and more people use Siri for dictation in order to text or post status updates on Facebook or Twitter while driving. I truly appreciate this approach to social media and text messaging…it keeps our roads safe. Nonetheless, this often creates misspelled words—especially incorrect homophones such as to, two, and too; their, there, and they’re; your and you’re—to annoyingly cascade across my social media news feeds. I’ve reluctantly grown to accept this phenomenon and do my best not to judge others accordingly.

I’m a work in progress! Well…aren’t we all?

One homophone that I’ve seen Siri embracing as of late is presents and presence. Siri’s word of choice appears to be presents regardless of context. At first, I was annoyed with Siri’s lack of contextual observation skills. However, after some self-reflection, I’ve come to a simple theological observation. In the context of my personal relationship with God, there isn’t a big difference between these two words.

Out of all the presents possible, the most amazing present ever given was the full accessibility to the holy presence of God.

The final furnishing found in the Holy Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat, which was the lid for the ark. Resting in the Holy of Holies and separated from the rest of the Tabernacle by a thick veil, the Ark of the Covenant was the place where God’s presence dwelled—where God would meet His people (Exodus 25:22). The only problem with this concept was that God was too holy…the sinful people of Israel couldn’t actually dwell within the same space as God. God’s holy presence would literally destroy them. Once a year—and only once a year—the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies where he would sprinkle the blood of sacrifice upon the mercy seat to appeal for God’s grace—to atone for the sins of the people (Exodus 37:6-9). God’s presence was inaccessible.

Centuries later, God’s son, Jesus Immanuel—God’s presence here with and among us—hung dying on a cross. At three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave up his spirit. At that moment, the curtain of the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:46-51). Because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross—his blood shed for our sins—we now have full access to the holy presence of God. We are permanently restored; redeemed; reconciled. The thick veil of sin and corruption no longer separates us from God’s presence. The grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ on the cross is the greatest present of all—the presence of God.

Jesus returned to Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. Before he left the earth, however, he promised us that he would not abandon us; God would never remove his holy presence from us again. Jesus promised to send an advocate—God’s very presence—The Holy Spirit of truth. God’s presence, evident in the Holy Spirit, would help us, be with us, and dwell within us forever (John 14:16-18).

Now that’s the kind of present that would bring back that childhood excitement we used to experience every Christmas morning. God’s presence in our life…found in the Holy Spirit…is the best present I could possibly think of.

Thank you Siri for reminding me!

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

—1 John 4:11-15.

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