CBD from Birkenhead Wharf, late Autumn
The lights of the city and bridge look warm, yet the harbour is cold and uninviting (I guess). There is a barrier between me and the city, except for the one overworked bridge. Tantalized posts are a visual barrier, indicating the boundary of the sea. I could take a ferry, if there were enough crew members to staff it.
In the post-Covid environment, our city has a resource imbalance, as do our churches. Pastors of churches large and small nervously eye the bottom lines of membership and budget. Many are doing it tough, and wondering when things will pick up. Sometimes we feel God's absence as much as God's presence. Richard Foster writes;
'I am sure you understand that when I speak of the absence of God, I am not talking about a true absence but rather a sense of absence. God is always present with us - we know that theologically - but there are times when he withdraws our consciousness of his presence.' Prayer (p.18)
Praying for our city and for the church in 2023 seems to meet barriers and resource deficits. Yet let us recognize the sense of absence is something we should faithfully pray into. Remember Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal then falling into fear and running to hide in the wilderness? But the absence turned into the quiet whisper of God's presence. God who never left anyway.
There are cold harbours and uncertainty to navigate before us - a sense of absence. But be assured God is present with us in our personal and corporate circumstances. Jesus knew the forsakenness of the cross, and then the life of resurrection. The Holy Spirit is with us so keep the faith and pray always.