In the present

This evening, pastors from Northwest Yearly Meeting will be gathering for their annual retreat at Twin Rocks Friends Camp where FUM General Secretary Colin Saxton is speaking over a stretch of four sessions. At the same time, we’re featuring short devotional thoughts from Colin in Fruit of the Vine. This morning’s reflection is on Luke 24 in which Colin challenges us “to be continually aware of Jesus’ Presence. . . . Unfortunately, there are many distractions and diversions that come our way.”

We must learn to be where we are when we’re there, to be  “in the present,” a practice Colin calls “the premier skill of the spiritual life. After all, the present is the only real moment we can count on; the past is gone, the future uncertain. Now – this moment in time – is the one opportunity where we can always encounter the Living Christ, opening ourselves to his presence and power.”

As I’m reading, I notice that the light is brighter than it’s been in weeks, so I stop for a moment in order to pay attention to my breaths in this silent space of early morning. A space that is already changing into day. It is hard to be here. Already, I’m thinking about what comes next (and it’s mainly a list of things I should have done last week).

That is what happens in this passage from Luke. “Cleopas and his companion . . . get stuck in the past, reflecting on what has already occurred. Similarly, it is just as easy to get swept up in worrying and wondering about what may lie ahead.” Colin writes that even “though both past and future have an important place in our thoughts, they can so preoccupy us that we may miss the One who is with us right now.”

That's a question for me. Am I aware of Christ with me? It’s a question for us. Do we believe God is with us? Do we sense the presence of Jesus?

In today’s text, Colin notes that “the smoldering sadness of Cleopas is transformed into incendiary joy, when he recognizes that the stranger he has welcomed, walked with, and listened to is Jesus. What if he had not been paying at least some attention? Might he have missed Jesus altogether?”

Colin continues, “Right now – the proceeding Word of God is being spoken in your ear. Do you recognize the voice? Right now – as you open your grace-healed eyes, Christ is before you. Do you recognize his face? Right now – is Christ kindling something new within you?”

I hope the answer is yes.

Eric Muhr

P.S. Each morning’s reflection in Fruit of the Vine is designed to replicate our experience in open or waiting worship. Out of the silence, someone stands and shares a story of God’s presence, a way in which they’ve been touched by Truth. Over the days and weeks and months, these gathered testimonies shape us as individuals, and they have power to shape our faith communities, to guide us into the work to which God has called us. If you’re not already subscribed to Fruit of the Vine, I hope you’ll consider doing so. And if you already subscribe, please think of someone in your life who might benefit from a gift subscription. Available in print or digital versions.