As I write this, PM Jacinda Ardern has just announced that she’s pregnant and due in June. It takes me back to those foggy early days after the arrival of our first child, when all of life seemed to merge into a sleep-reduced haze. I remember the mixture of joy and terror, holding this fragile child with all of the potential and uncertainty that lay ahead.

Today we’re looking at the nature of faith and what it means to put our fundamental trust in an unseen God in the age before Jesus returns. Faith can, at times, feel like holding a vulnerable child. The great theologian Karl Barth named it well when he said that everything we believe and do as Christians is enabled and sustained by the Holy Spirit — our faith “hovers in Mid Air.” Barth’s point is not that our faith appears to hover in Mid Air, but that it actually does, held up by the wind of God’s breath. This leaves us in a challenging place as people of faith living in a materialised world, where we’re taught to put our trust in tangible things like houses, careers and our own bodies (Bitcoin being an obvious exception to this rule!).

But Jesus calls us to live boldly in the time between his coming and his coming again; a time when our faith “hovers in Mid Air.” This is swimming against the tide of our world to say the least, and we need to be attentive to what faith looks like. As I said last week, more than anything else, faith takes courage. Karl Barth was a Swiss German theologian who resisted the rise of the Nazis and their adjusted vision of church. He mentored another pastor called Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who also refused to let the church become a shape-shifter for the Nazi cause. Bonhoeffer’s faith took huge courage, but it was also fuelled by the perspective that God’s greater, yet still invisible, kingdom made sense of our faith. Bonhoeffer believed that God had a destiny for each of his followers. After a year in a Nazi prison, he wrote, “I’m firmly convinced—however strange it may seem—that my life has followed a straight and unbroken course, … and is being determined necessarily and straightforwardly by a higher providence. I believe that nothing that happens to me is meaningless.”

I’ve been struck over the last few years how challenging faith can be. Like the Israelites eating manna and quail in the wilderness, God sometimes doesn’t give us more than we need, often laying down the track as the train rolls over it. This is designed to strengthen us in our faith, so that we come to know that the divine breath sustaining us is the most secure place on which to build our lives. That’s the challenge of faith and it's the challenge for us this year — to entrust every aspect of our lives again to the wind of the Spirit for the glory of God and His greater purposes.

Rev Jonny Grant