Weekly Blog - Paul Lancaster - Seeing The City
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Posted on: 27th October 2022
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven…” (Revelation 21v2)
It has always intrigued me what John really saw in his vision of the Holy City. Yes- there follows a vivid description which is truly exciting and amazing in its future projection, but what is interesting is that he “saw” “the city”.
Recently I visited some friends in Canada and on the last day of my trip I spent a few hours in Toronto, so I thought I must do the ‘tourist thing’ and go up the CN tower (over 140 floors). The view from the top of Toronto was breath taking, as I walked round the glass dome looking down on other skyscrapers, seeing something of the extent of the city in terms of its structures.
Much has been written about defining cities and their importance, especially in recent years. One of the distinctions is seeing the city not only as a built up area but a perception of the beliefs and characteristics that have shaped it. Do we see Leeds in terms of its buildings and institutions or do we see it another way? Leeds City Council ‘sees’ it as “A compassionate and caring city with a strong economy”. A number of people visiting the city have said “Leeds leads!” and there certainly is a history of innovation here as well as spiritual leadership. In June this year Leeds officially joined the Intercultural Cities Network, which interestingly is described as ‘looking at a city through an intercultural lens’, and estimating how a city is faring compared to other cities.
So how do we see Leeds personally? It depends on a number of factors. We might see it from the perspective of where we live. You might have a literal view of the main buildings of the city. If you live on the outer edge you may not really have a sense of being part of the city at all, except by postal code. Others of us will identify with the city in terms of work, study, sport and entertainment, church etc.
A number of us across the city, as part of a unity mission and prayer movement (Gather), have been seeking to encourage us to see what God’s kingdom can look like in various spheres in the city, social need, health, education, politics, business, the arts and media, intercultural interaction etc. More recently we have noticed that there are those networking within the different geographical areas of the city, especially since Covid and the cost of living crisis, impacting the wider city too.
You may be thinking ‘I’m not a big picture person’ when it comes to seeing the city. However we are not just separate individuals or churches, we are all part of the city and we all have something to give. Jesus looking over Jerusalem spoke how he ‘longed to gather’ them. In these increasingly testing times let’s ‘see the city’ more together. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to ‘gather’ us, in meeting the needs of the marginalised and capturing a fresh vision from a heavenly perspective of that great gathering, the New Jerusalem, reshaping and redefining Leeds.
Paul Lancaster, Hope for the Nations.