City of Transformation
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Bronwyn Angela White
Reflection based on text for the day
The north has let us go;
the south has not held us.
From distant east and farthest west
we have been brought home.
Here God dwells in the people;
God’s home in the city is in us:
in this city of imagination, of beauty to nourish
and wealth to share,
of rough bits to be sanded, challenges to face,with the on-going work of transformation to be done.
What is our approach to the city?
By ferry or train, aircraft or car, on foot or in imagination, we come to the city. Through concerts and crèches, gardens and galleries, soup kitchens and bistros, churches and cinemas, we come home to ourselves and to God.
Where we work and relax, celebrate and grieve, in retirement and well-being, in busyness and in healing, our lives change and are changed. In the dwelling place of God we find our centre; in the heart of the city we find ourselves.
For we are the city, the grit and the polish, the gates of pearl and streets of gold: we are the agents of transformation, the added value in the city’s life.
What brings us to the city, to the Terrace, to this community, to “God”?
Our approach to the city is the liturgy of our lives:
Rounding the motorway at the bottom of Ngauranga Gorge, we see the harbour and hills, buildings against the skyline and at night, the brilliant lights. We draw near to our life in this place.
Along the motorway, and canyons of steel, glass and concrete absorb us: the real and the miraculous collide. Here are the roadworks and detours, grassy areas in the midst of offices and shops, the parks with their flower beds and street people’s sleeping bags, the pavements littered with vomit and ATM receipts. Here is our street, with the dead possum in the gutter and the beer cans slung over the fence.
Here in the city of transformation, the transforming work must go on.
Our prayers of approach and adoration: Just look at that view: there’s nowhere like it! echo smugly. It’s so good to be home… there’s a dissonance now.
"Eastern_Suburbs" - Maxey Timons
Our response to the city is the work of transformation.
Here are the flagpoles plinking and tapping, the pohutakawa in summer scarlet or winter green. Here is the woman at the bus stop, draped in cardies and coats and carrier bags: the step’s so high, and her arms get so tired. Here are the hurrying people, the cycle couriers and senior executives, aerobics instructors and systems analysts. Here’s the Employment Service and the too-short list of jobs; and the unemployed, with their too-short lists of skills or too-long life experience, or too many applications rejected or simply ignored.
We are the heart of the city: we respond individually and collectively. We work for change through the various things we believe in:
Preserving green and valued public places:
— Sharing time or money or energy with hospices and help-lines; at “Beacons of Hope” or working for CAB
— Making space in our communities and homes for young people to question and grow, be impassioned or uncertain ;
When our business has a code of ethical conduct and integrity’s part of strategic policy;
Through sacramental acts and casual contacts via international welfare ventures or locally by supporting our kids’ school fair.
confession & thanksgiving
"Wellington Doors" - Wayne Hosie
Our prayers ofconfession are the helping hands we extend; when we’re far too busy to stop, the moment we take to pause and exchange a greeting; our encouragement of a colleague, taking the time send a bereavement card.
We’re transformed and give thanks in the city.
When the phones are ringing and the paint’s peeling and there aren’t enough hours in the day and the year is going too fast: here’s
When the days are too long and the months take forever and it seems nothing ever goes right—
when we’ve given too much and forgotten how to accept—
when our strength and good humour have masked our need to be loved–
here’s the Comforter right on our doorstep: the neighbour who brings in the washing, friends offering a lift to a party, insisting we creep out of our shell; here’s the loan of a book or the loan of a shoulder to cry on; someone helps us move house, or offers to baby-sit.
In opening our hearts - just enough to say “thank you”; when we let ourselves go - just a bit, and admit we need help - we’re beginning our own transformation.
We give thanks, as we let ourselves live.
We intercede for the city.
In sharing our stories, telling how we are transformed, we answer our own petition. Chatting with friends over dinner, in the industrial chaplain’s office or the smoko room at work, in the pub or at home over coffee, we share our lives and offer the promise of healing.
In brief moments with strangers: the cheerful ticket collector on the train, the girl in MacDonald’s who needs to tell someone she’s going to meet her birth mother, the skateboarder who grins as he misses our ankles - just!
With friends, when we go to the movies, or sit listening - again! - to their heartbreak and we wonder how long they’ll go on and will they ever go home, and we smile anyway and say, “Call me any time!”
When we clap a mate on the shoulder and say, “You’ll be okay. Got time for a beer?” and we let them buy even when we know they can’t really afford it.
When we let others have their pride, and forget our own, we are the city’s heart.
dismissal and benediction
We are the life of the city.
We feel the wind on our face, we breathe the breath of life:
we are the spirit.
We hear the traffic and the buskers,
the Cathedral bells;
we are the city’s voice: its word made flesh.
We taste salt spray at the beach,
the perfect Greek salad,
freshly baked bread,
the best cappuccino in town;
we are the city’s flavour: the salt, the leaven, the zest.
are the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem.
God’s home in the city is us:
In this city of reality and imagination,
this place of transformation,
we are the agents of change
and the dwelling place of God.
city of transformation
© Bronwyn Angela White (1998)—
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