LAST week there was a cold chill across our communities as the news broke of the DUP standing down their First Minister over the Protocol.
I am in no doubt that there are genuine concerns with regards to the Protocol that need worked through, but I am more concerned about the sense of hopelessness from our people. A sense of ‘here we go again’ gripped many of our hearts.
Why? Because the majority of people are more concerned about our health service, paying their bills, unemployment and the legalisation still waiting to be passed; not forgetting our victims of historical abuse who still await an apology.

As we step into another political wilderness, we must remember that this affects all of us. At the heart of all this is real people: real people, in real life, facing real issues.
As the news broke, I was attending a ‘Connect’ event organised by our Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl, concentrating on child poverty. My heart was heavy as I listened to the information and updates from the organisations who work on the ground tackling child poverty, knowing that they (and many other charities) rely on funding from our now stalled government. It is understandable to feel a sense of hopelessness as we wonder if things will ever change. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking about one of the Bible giants, Elijah. In 1 Kings 19 we encounter this great prophet sitting under a tree, overwhelmed with fear and a deep sense of hopelessness. We are told that an Angel shows up to comfort and encourage him, providing food and water. Sometimes, when we feel at our wits’ end, we simply need people to show up. The power of presence can bring great comfort.
During this difficult season, let’s look out for each other; let’s practice the rhythm of showing-up. Let me also add,  if you are struggling, please ask for help; you are not on your own. I pray that we will show up for others. I pray we will be present for those who need our help. I pray that God will surround you and your family in the days ahead. I know this season is difficult, but I still believe better days are ahead.
Among us are visionaries, community champions, hope bringers, peacemakers and those committed to rebuilding and restoring our home.  Continue to hold on to hope!