My heart is in the midst of the city these days.
Gaza City and Ashkelon in the Middle East as rockets soar and explode.
Washington DC and the important decisions that are made there that impact the real lives of real people.
Lahaina, Hawaii as folks continue to dig out and begin the long process to return to life after the fires.
Kyiv, Ukraine and the continuing Russian attacks
Cities along the southern border, struggling to receive and process (or turn away) the tens of thousands of refugees seeking safety from the violence and corruption of their homelands.
Great Falls and our neighbors who call the streets, shrubs, overpasses and doorways “home.”
Cities are places where big things happen, where big things are built and big groups of people abide for work, refuge, rest and play.
I tend to not be a fan of cities. I prefer the space and the quiet of the country. My soul is fed by even briefest of moments under the stars and watching our deer-neighbors make their way through our yard during the day. In contrast, cities are full of rush and hard surfaces and grime. Yet, in the midst of the city is where the writer of the Book of Revelation paints a picture of peace and healing:
“Then I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…” (Revelation 21:2)
Then, through the middle of the city flows the river of the water of life where “on either side of the river is the tree of life…. and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev. 22:1-2)
It’s always been important to me that this description of heaven is actually on earth, where God is at home among mortals. It’s not the other way around where God creates a heavenly home away from earth in which humans abide in God. And God identifies the city as the place where it will be known. It will be a place where tears will be wiped away (indicating that tears are present to begin with) and where death and pain will be no more.
I imagine this city that has been unveiled in the Book of Revelation and think about how far from it the cities that we hear about on the news are. There’s an abundance of tears and pain and dying in the city. In the midst of it, something else arises. The cries are heard around the world and compassion pours forth. The dead are honored and those who love them are cared for. Pain is softened as family and friends are re-united and strangers open up homes and hearts.
I don’t know what kind of evil burrows its way into the human soul to bomb cities, abduct children, swindle those who are seeking a life that is actually life-giving or create laws and policies that hurt and devalue. I don’t know how such evil can exist in the same world where I see so much goodness every day. I don’t know why such evil exists but it does. And so I just keep going back to that vision in Revelation of the day when God’s full, bright and shining love will become a part of the heart of every city.
It seems God intends for a lot of good to come from the city. So, we look for the good and pray for peace.