We’ve come to Wednesday in Holy Week. Not an easy week, any year, but somehow, this year, living with rising prices, the threat of nuclear/biological/chemical war, the war in Ukraine, it is an even more difficult year for many.

Some people of deep faith are asking ‘Where is God?’ and beginning to question Jesus’ presence in their lives.

There is good news: Whether we experience it or not … Jesus is with us … God cares … Spirit gives courage to get through the moments of each difficult day. One moment at a time, Holy Presence is “just checking in.”

<The following story by an unknown author (which I’ve adapted and retitled) is a gentle reminder that no matter what, the Creator is with us …”just checking in.”
A minister passing through the old church at noon, noticed a man coming down the aisle. The man hadn’t shaved in a while; his shirt was torn and shabby; his coat was worn and frayed. He knelt, bowed his head, then rose and silently walked away. In the days that followed, the minister noticed this man kneeling, just for a moment, a lunch pail in his lap. The minister’s curiosity grew. He introduced himself and then asked “What are you doing here?”

The old man said he was a factory worker. Lunch was only half an hour and lunchtime was his prayer time for finding strength and power. “I stay only a moment because the factory’s far away.As I kneel here talking to God, this is kinda what I say:I just came by to tell you, God, how happy I have been since we found each other’s friendship. I don’t know much of how to pray, but I think about you every day. So, Jesus, this is Ben, just checking in today.”

The minister told Ben that he was welcome to pray there any time. “It’s time to go. And, thanks,” Ben said, as he hurried to the door. The minister knelt at the altar.

His heart warmed with love, and as the tears flowed down his cheeks, the minister repeated old Ben’s prayer: “I just came by to tell you, God, how happy I have been since we found each other’s friendship. I don’t know much of how to pray, but I think about you every day. So, Jesus, this is just me, just checking in today.”

One day, the minister noticed that old Ben hadn’t come to the church in several days. As more days passed and still no Ben, he began to worry. He asked about him at the factor and learned that Ben was ill and in hospital. He learned that the week Ben was with there, changes happened in the ward. His smiles and joy were contagious.

The head nurse couldn’t understand why Ben could be so glad when no flowers, calls or cards came, not even one visitor until the minister appeared. The minister stayed by Ben’s bed, voicing the nurse’s concern.

Looking surprised, old Ben spoke up and with a winsome smile “The nurse is wrong. She couldn’t know, He’s been here all the while and every day at noon, sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:‘I just came by to tell you, Ben, how happy I have been since we found this friendship. I think about you always, and I love to hear you pray. And so Ben, this is Jesus, just checking in today.’

On this Wednesday of Holy Week, may we have a “Ben-Faith”
… a faith that is simple and profound
… a faith that is trusting and hope-filled
… a faith that is filled with joy and gratitude for the unconditional love of all and because each day,
… the Creator is “just checking in” with us.

© June Maffin
Image: Vincent van Gogh sketch in public domain