“Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
This prayer comes from that app I’ve been raving about. (Mission St. Clare) And it punched me right in the gut when I read it the other night. It’s so timely. We’re in an era when mayors of major cities all over North America are not exactly poster children for integrity and civic fairness, to say the least. We witness oppression and injustice play themselves out in city streets on dozens of different stages. We see racism playing a significant role (Trayvon Martin, for one giant example) in urban centers everywhere.
Some people would argue that God has left cities behind to rot and decay. Many Christians have bought into a belief that you have to go to the country in order to experience God because God does not dwell in the city. Some days it’s hard for me to muster up the strength or even the faith to dispute that argument.
But on most days I know that’s a lie. God is in the city and I get to experience Him here. I meet Him in the streets amongst my friends. I encounter Her at my work. I’ve experienced His presence on my bike while riding throughout the city. I get to hear Her voice when I sit in silence in the Don Valley or by Lake Ontario. I become more acquainted with God as I live out my life with my family amongst my wonderful neighbours. I grow closer to God when I listen to or participate in playing life giving music.
God is in fact here in the city. And I don’t need to get in my car and drive to the country in order to find Him.
But I’ll keep continuing to pray for this city and for ‘the’ city in general. Because it needs some big things to happen. There are too many people being left behind by our consumer driven, self-absorbed lifestyles. People continue to die while mayors continue to lie and cheat and steal. We need God to step in and shake things up. We need honest and able leaders (and that’s not a ‘left’ or ‘right’ comment because I’m very aware that both sides are corrupt)
One of the things that drew me so powerfully to the work that I currently do at Gateway is the motto that I inherited;
“The Hand of God in the Heart of the City”. It implied that God is in fact in the city. And it challenged me then and continues to challenge me now that as a Jesus follower, I don’t get to sit around and wait for God to act. But that I am called, I am responsible, to act on His behalf as His child.
Oh Lord, even with this weakened and failing body of mine, give me the strength and courage to continue to try and be your hand in the heart of this great city.