At the last church I served, there was some very dear friends of my wife and I that had a house fire. They lost almost everything they had. They were very involved members and in the community, and as I was there that night as the fire was being put out, many people came to offer support or help or whatever they needed. Those people meant it, but the next morning as he returned to his house to survey damage, I was the only one there to help him sift out of the wreckage.
I learned a valuable lesson, namely that many people say they will help, and they mean it sincerely, but no one asks for help. This man was not going to ask anyone to follow him around and take notes as he dealt with insurance. Nor would he ask anyone to sift through water and soot and ash and other things to look for the gun from his grandpaw. But he needed someone to do that. The people who offered help meant it, and many would and did show up later on when recruited by some other people.
I saw this play out again later on when another family had a fire. Then again when another family had a fire. Very strange 6 months. Then again when man in the church took his own life, leaving a wife and 3 children. Just to show up. To be there. Everyone needs help in those situations, but no one asks for it. Most people aren't even sure what they need a day after tragedy strikes, so the ministry of presence is a valuable one.
As I type this I just sent off an ambulance to the hospital with a 94 year old woman in it who fell in her house. Again, the lesson stands. There is not much I can do, I can't bandage wounds, but I can be there, and so I will.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." I offer the ministry of presence, because Christ was there for me when I needed him most. But unlike the temporary things I offer, Christ offers eternal presence at the right hand of the Father, interceding for me. To help not sift through temporary possessions, but to sift through the wreckage of my life, and to heal the broken places in my life. To guide me as I rebuilt my life on a firm foundation, with Christ as the cornerstone.