Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Midweek Grace - Revelation 21

Believe it or not an Oct. 2005 article in the National Geographic pegged Philadelphia as the next great city. (I’ll wait until the laughter dies down and no they did not overdose on Schuylkill punch) Why have we been so graced you asked? There are a whole host of reasons mainly tied to the revitalization of center city. As urban planner Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class put it “Philadelphia is showing itself to be an "open city," a term that separates America's urban dynamos like San Francisco and Miami from struggling cities like Cleveland and St. Louis. "Open cities welcome people—singles, gays, artists and individuals," he says. "They have excitement and a sense of creative energy."

Growing up on Philly I never thought of it as a world class city in any sense of the word. And while it would perhaps be nice to live in a place that’s no longer thought of as a dirty speed bump between NY and D.C. we who live in the Philly area know that even if we are crowned America’s next great city there are still a host of seemingly intractable issues to face. It appears that no matter how great we become, how much panache we exude, how sparkling our new restaurants are and how lively our downtown night life is we will still live in a city infected and infested with people who like us act selfishly, rudely and inconsiderately. Though we may actually become the next great city Philly will still be a city with trash in the streets, a struggling school system, a division between rich and poor, and an all too high murder rate.

Does that mean that believers should then withdraw from participating in the revitalization of our city and region? Absolutely not! God has placed us here not to live a monkish existence of radical separation from our region but to show care and concern for the issues that affect our city and region. I said region because we cannot maintain a division between the city and its suburbs. We are indeed all in this together. Keep in mind that what benefit’s the city should benefit the region and vice versa. Thus those who live in the burbs should have an interest in the issues of Philadelphia as well as those who live in the city should be concerned about the issues that affect our region.

So whether Philly becomes the next great city or not we are still called to pursue the betterment of our city and region. There is a city however that is destined to become the world’s next great city. It’s the city the apostle John describes in Rev. 21. This is the city we’ve set our hopes on since we know no matter how much things improve in Philadelphia, our region, state, nation and world they are still destined to pass away. This is a city whose grandeur, beauty, diversity, freedom, order and security far surpasses any other place we could conceive of. Of all the features of this city the one that stands out is the full presence of our living Covenant Lord. Zion will be the final culmination of God’s redemptive plan for humanity as it will be the place where He will live with us forever. He will be our God and we will be His people. Zion is the place where we will finally and forever be free of any and all pain, sorrow, grief, trouble, mourning, loss and death. And yet that’s not the ultimate blessing of being a citizen of Zion. While the citizens of Zion most definitely look forward in confident hope to a world free of all pain and all that causes pain what we really want is a world filled with the blessed presence of our living Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Christ and Christ alone that we will realize all our longings for a full life of eternal delight, peace, meaning, acceptance and love. So I give you the world’s next great city. The new Jerusalem, Zion the city of God.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

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