Thursday, December 20, 2007

In His Presence

When we received a formal invitation to attend a Christmas gathering at the Ohio governor's residence, we debated for days about whether or not we should RSVP and attend. Surely our presence would go unnoticed among a guest list of thousands of "real" dignitaries and politicians, but we might create a fun memory anyway. Maybe if we knew someone else who was going, we could share the experience with them. So, we started asking around to see who among our friends had also received invitations, but no one from our various social circles had heard anything about the governor's shindig. Now our curiosity was really piqued. Why would the Ohio Commander in Chief invite lowly citizens like us to his place for dinner? There must be some mistake.

With fear and trepidation, we submitted our RSVP, and in so doing, gave our permission to the proper authorities to perform a security check on us. No doubt bells and whistles would go off and we'd be publicly exposed as Christmas-party interlopers and frauds, taking advantage of a clerical mistake made by some intern in the state capitol.

Last Thursday, the day of the big event, we donned our holiday apparel and made the 2.5 hour trek to Columbus. We pulled in front of the governor's residence right on time and surprisingly were able to find a parking place near the front gates. As we approached the guard's post, a solitary, plain-clothed gentleman asked our names then referred to his clipboard and said, "Please, go right on in." The front door opened as we climbed the front steps and a young woman greeted us and took our coats. Another staff member provided us name tags and encouraged us to walk on into the living room. I could only see a few folks mingling in the doorway and feared we'd misread the invitation and committed social suicide by arriving way too soon.

There, stoking the fire, stood Governor Strickland himself. He turned his poker over to an aide and made his way across the room. Taking my hand in his (to my husband's chagrin), he engaged David and me in private conversation for a good long while. After he excused himself to greet other arriving guests, we began to mingle among the two dozen or so attendees and discovered a common connection as ecclesiastical leaders of various denominations. Evidently, the guest list was comprised of those interested or supportive of the state's Faith-based Initiative programs, although there was no mention of any political agenda made that evening.

We ate great food, were entertained by a high-school choir, and gathered around the governor's grand piano for a Christmas carol sing-along. And all the while, I kept thinking--"Who am I, that I would be invited to spend the evening at the governor's place and share his one-on-one company?"

The awe I experience in the presence of an earthly political leader pales in comparison to the amazement I feel when I consider the fact that God Himself chose to draw near to us. Immanuel--God with us. He not only invited us into His presence, He endured the difficult journey and came to where we live!

May the significance of Advent hold fresh meaning in your life this Christmas season and throughout the new year.

Christmas blessings,

Susan Downs


Nancy said...


I think the governor was the one blessed to be in YOUR presence!

And we are all blessed to be in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Have a wonderful, blessed, blessed Christmas!

Nancy Mehl

Mary Connealy said...

Well, brush with greatness, eh, Susan? Cool?
I know that weird sense of 'when will I be found out'.
I keep expecting that from you lovely folks at Barbour.
You published my manuscript due to a clerical error and have a team of lawyers working round the clock looking for escape clauses in the contract.
You look lovely, btw.

Pam Hillman said...

How exciting! You do look wonderful. The governor and your hubby don't look too shabby, either. lol

It's a good thing you decide to go and have those memories. I imagine the governor's mansion was spendiferous!

Merry Christmas!

Beth Goddard said...

What an exciting experience! Thanks for sharing:)

Jean Kincaid said...

WOW!!! Now I know somebody that knows somebody. Can I have your autograph? Oh, and I always love your posts. Your heart is so tender toward the Lord and that comes shining through. What a blessing.