Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Iconic Way to Pray for the City... Imagine that!

Recently I discovered this amazing photography of Auckland city by a group called lensaloft. They are interactive 360 images of Auckland city from a helicopter hovering above the city centre.

They capture something of the grandeur and beauty of the city of Auckland. The dark greens of the land and in the wonderful light of dusk the glimmering silver blue of the harbours and Hauraki gulf. Layered on top of that the more vibrant lights of the city we have built, the motor way surging with colours orange and red, like the veins and arteries  that pump life from the heart of he city into the vast expanse of its suburban sprawl.

I found myself reflecting on these images, as a spiritual disciple. This is the city I work in, this is the city that I and my brothers and sisters in Christ are called to love and seek the peace of and to speak good news into and serve. This may seem a bit of a grandiose thought for a minister of a struggling Presbyterian church nestled somewhere near the geological heart of Auckland (Mt Wellington) which in the picture of things, or in these pictures of the thing almost feels peripheral. But it is a great help in praying for the vast mission field of this global city.

As I reflect one of the things that comes to mind is that it would be easy to simply look at the place from the rarefied air way above its commercial heart. But one of the things about an image, like a metaphor is that equally important to what you see is what you don't see. AS I reflect and pray I am aware of things I am not seeing. Maybe it would be easy to get caught up with the lights and not see the darkness. The individuals blur in motion like the individual cars on the motorway. Some of the needier areas of the city here disappear and are lost in the darkness and beyond the scope of the lens.

One of the ways this kind of image is called is "A God's eye view" and that has some theological challenges. From this height it seems easy to be detached and often we envisage a God way up there, distant disinterested disassociated maybe even distracted, but that is not the case, we must view God through the lens of Christ, through his feet  on dusty country roads and crowded city streets.  In John's gospel Jesus is more often at the central city of Jerusalem than any of the other gospels sometimes in the centre where all the action is going on but also as in the case of the miracle narrative in John 5:1-9 with the sick and desperate at the pool by the sheep gate. God actual sees and knows and is in the picture rather than distant and far off.

This image also challenges my imagination...My Presbyterian imagination, chiselled as if in stone from a homeland and time I've never known struggles to  envisage a church with a vision for a city. The more rural Christendom model seems to hold us captive... but it is good to be reminded that the church was born and originally spread in the cityscape of the first century. I was reminded of that recently when in our multi cultural city  when I met a women from Thessaloniki Greece's second largest city.

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