God is everywhere.
Jesus promises to be with us always.
All that is. This is what God holds in his palm, according to Julian of Norwich.
We like statements of certainty that affirm God’s presence and action in our lives, especially those that can fit on a bumper sticker or be committed to memory without too much trouble.
And, yet, there are so many times in our lives and in our world when the cares and concerns of life crowd out any awareness of God’s presence. It can seem like we have pushed God away with our selfish ways or, worse still, as if God has abandoned us. There are times and places when we experience a sense of tremendous lack, either in terms of basic human necessities or on an emotional or spiritual level. A sense of bankruptcy is part of the human experience, regardless of our position in life.
Recently I found myself seated in a small circle with some new friends. They had gathered for Morning Prayer at the edge of a poorly tended parking lot in an overlooked corner of downtown Atlanta. Twice a week like clockwork, Pastor Mary brings chairs, prayer books, and coffee and biscuits, and her regular congregants wander over to help set up. One older man, thin and tired-looking, started us off with song. He shut his eyes and began singing deeply from his heart, in a way that transformed the tenor of our gathering, that invited in the Holy Spirit. Church was underway. The generosity of God took over in the prayers of the people as we offered our needs and hopes before God, followed by prayers of thanksgiving and praise for all the blessings of this life. One young man was grateful for the small brown bird that undergirded our prayers with its energetic, jubilant offering of song from a delicate perch at the tip of the dead tree limb that hovered over us.
This tender time of prayer and presence with each other shone on the face of poverty and lack until the face of Jesus was revealed.