I recently heard some statistics about the city of Detroit, that: they have a 23% unemployment rate, that 30% of the city is on food stamps, and that 1 million people have already left the city. While these numbers are certainly inflated due to problems in the auto industry, they do help us see the crisis our nation currently faces. It only seems fitting that while New York's Wall Street is frantically searching for answers to life's problems, we sit on Seattle's Wall Street dreaming of new ways that the world might find redemption and restoration. It seems that America's predominant story of individualism and greed has finally proved itself inept and it appears time that a new story, a counter-narrative of community and self-sacrifice, spring up in its place. I count it a blessing to have this opportunity to study and dream, to wonder about how the Kingdom of God might invade this world.
As people scramble for any way to feed their families, the church must become a place of refuge, a place of hope, a place to find real, tangible answers to life's real, tangible problems. As the elders of our community prepare for retirement but are forced to realize that this is no longer an option because their 401k has tanked, communities of faith must step into their God-given roles of being a voice for the voiceless and the marginalized, the widow and the orphan. And as our country is faced with an onslaught of doubt about the future, followers of Christ must balance the tension between being sympathetic to these real fears while being hopeful and proactive about creating a new future for this world, a new heaven and a new earth here in this place.