A few years ago, my daughters asked me what I would most like for Christmas. My response was immediate. I hadn’t given it prior thought. But the natural reply was: “I would like to experience some fun thing together with you.” They each ended up getting me tickets to an event that I attended with each of them. It was being with them that I most valued and enjoyed.
Presence is the golden gift that we all are able to give to others. I believe what motivates us to want to be present in a person’s life is love that draws us to want to be as close as we can to them. It is love that makes us want to listen to what another person has to say, to hear their story without interruption. So, when we love a person, we desire their presence and value their story.
God, who himself is love, desires to be as close to us as he can. He sent his Son Jesus to live with us, to die for us, and to give us eternal life. He sent his Holy Spirit to be our guide, advocate, comforter and so much more. Jesus said that his Spirit would take Jesus’ place here on this earth, and even more, actually within us. Therefore, this Holy Spirit would be God’s personal presence in our daily lives, making it possible to walk the path he designed us for.
Trevor Hudson, in his book, Holy Spirit Here and Now, writes “When God gives us the Holy Spirit, God gives us nothing less than God’s own self — an important emphasis.”
That’s powerful! The Holy Spirit is far more than the symbols mentioned in scripture such as fire, wind, water, breath. The Holy Spirit is the Perso of God, who comes to dwell with each person.
Is it possible that the difference between being a nominal Christian and a passionate follower of Jesus is how much we attune our lives to God’s presence? More than a prescribed list of things to do or not to do, could it be that living daily in God’s presence is what holy living is all about?
When we fall in love with someone, we want to be with that person, just enjoying each other’s presence. To be without the other’s presence feels empty. This is how it is when we really love Jesus, nothing can take the place of his presence through his Holy Spirit.
Further, the Holy Spirit works through us his people to build God’s kingdom and glorify his name. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can live holy, empowered lives, emboldened to share Jesus and make a difference in the lives of others.
Pastor and author, Tim McConnell, writes: “the Holy Spirit makes us alive to the awesomeness of just being in God’s presence. We get to the place where God’s presence becomes the most important priority in our lives.”
As Trevor Hudson writes, “the Holy Spirit … draws us into a deeper shared life, changes us inwardly, guides us in our decision making, helps us to pray, empowers us for witness, and so on … these are personal actions of the living God at work in our lives, right where we are.”
Let’s lean into experiencing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. That’s the additional missional emphasis of the Oregon Conference.