Tom and I are currently in Australia. In the last week we have walked around Sydney and Melbourne visiting some of the haunts I frequented 40+ years ago. Most of them have changed dramatically since then. High rise buildings now loom over the streets creating shadowy concrete corridors that have replaced once tree lined boulevards. Green spaces have shrunk, people have been displaced. Many of my favourite areas are still great places for commerce but no longer for creation. Even the magnificent Sydney botanical gardens abutting the beautiful harbour are dwarfed by the monstrous buildings.
It is easy to feel depressed as I wander these and other major cities of our world. Homelessness is more evident, pollution more pronounced. Despair is all around me.
Hope is more elusive I find. In the garden I see it at every turn – refuse into black gold in the compost heap, seeds sprouting up through brown earth, a riot of flowers, bees, insects, beauty. They all shout out the hope of God. In the city one must intentionally seek for it. It doesn’t always shout, it only whispers. Yet hidden in alleyways and crumbling facades there are signs that encourage me to believe that Jesus is not only present but actively at work in the cities of our world.
In Melbourne we met with young people from Surrender who dedicate their lives to the radical call of Jesus and follow him to the least, the last and the lost. We also visited the Feast of Merit Café, a local social enterprise whose profits support YGAP’s vision to end global poverty. In Sydney we caught a glimpse of one of the 19 community gardens around the city, and heard about Youth Food Movement online youthfoodmovement.org.au which sponsors workshops that encourage young people to see food waste in create new ways. We talked to Laura O’Reilly CEO of Fighting Chance Australia who works with young adults with disabilities to give them hope and a future.
These are not just glimpses of hope in our cities, these young people reveal the face of Jesus to us.
What are the images of hope in your city? Who are the people that reveal the face of Jesus to you? How can you both encourage and join the work that they are doing to give birth to new expressions of Jesus in our cities today?