Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The gift of presence and availability by Susanne Irving 14th December 2016

In Brian Draper’s online advent group, we have been exploring the Hebrew word “Hineni”, which means “Here I am.” Brian pointed out that this phrase was used by some of the key players in Scripture at turning point in their lives, including Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, or Moses, when he was confronted with the burning bush.

I have been thinking about the major and minor players in the Christmas story. Many helped God’s plan to unfold through their “hineni”.

What courage Mary and Joseph displayed! When they agreed to be available to God, their lives changed irrevocably. I wonder whether they truly understood what was asked of them, but they obeyed anyway. I imagine their “big” obedience did not come out of the blue, but that they had practiced being available to God in every day decisions. They teach me that it is important to practice availability even in seemingly mundane situations. Otherwise I may not be ready for the bigger yeses God may require one day.

Not everyone was asked to make sacrifices of the same magnitude. The shepherds were sent on a short-term mission. I find it interesting that some of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history were prepared for their future task by spending time as shepherds. I have never herded sheep like David and Moses, but I imagine that successful shepherding requires attention and being present. A shepherd in biblical times could probably not afford to daydream and had to stay with the task at hand. Otherwise, he would not be ready to defend the sheep from attack or would not notice when a sheep was wandering off.

Another group of people who said “hineni” through their action were the magi who travelled thousands of miles to find the King of the Jews. I wonder whether it helped to travel with other likeminded people when they set out. I imagine that not everybody in their homeland thought it was a good idea to followed a star.

Nobody was forced to be available when God called, and not everybody grasped the opportunity to say yes. The innkeeper did not make room in the inn. We are not told much about his motives, but I know from my own experience how easy it is to be set in my way and then lack the flexibility to come up with creative solutions when confronted with the unexpected. However, if the will is there, there is usually a way.

Most sobering of all, is Herold’s example. His attitude was “I am here – and I won’t budge.” He did not make space for God’s plans and did everything in his power to stop those plans from coming to fruition. His “no” caused distress, misery and death. He teaches me the danger of having the ego on the throne.

I want to have the courage to give the gift of presence and availability – not just at Christmas.

About the author:
Sue Irving is the co-ordinator for the Creative Communicators in Petersfield. She has co-written a book with her husband John about their experiences when climbing Kilimanjaro. It is aimed at both trekkers and those who are going through a dark time in their lives. How to conquer a mountain: Kilimanjaro lessons is available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon, with all proceeds going to charity.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, Sue. I have only recent discovered the word 'Hineni' and it has become a watchword for my life, a call to be present when I may not want to be and when it is hard.