When the Light Goes Down in the City
Cities like Philadelphia are associated with the above terms as domains in perpetual motion, never sleeping because business and culture churn the proverbial crank around the clock.
Cities really are alive, with seemingly endless people, places and things to see, go to and try. It can be very exciting.
It's hard to believe that a city as great as Philadelphia has been in constant transition for hundreds of years, and will one day be no more. In fact, even in the midst of her greatness, her underbelly reveals a very different picture than the lively cityscape and cultural hotspots depict; these are snapshots filled with need, hunger, homelessness, disease, and spiritual depravity. Perhaps those are the most honest photos at which we ought to gaze.
Hebrews 13:14 states: "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come." The 'city that is to come' is the New Jerusalem, or, heaven.
As Christians, such images and experiences of sorrow and need only drive us to see this embodied by our Lord, Christ crucified on the cross. To gaze upon our suffering Savior is to see suffering, death and hell conquered into eternity. When the Light of the World descended, died and rose again, we were guaranteed that all pain and turmoil would cease, and that true Light and Life would be ours and remain forever.
While the bustle of the city can excite and intoxicate, the City that is to come actually does something very different. This City, the New Jerusalem, brings eternal Peace. In this city, the rat race is no more. The hunger, craving for entertainment, addiction and all wants... finished.
Which is why our Lord sends foretastes of this City for us throughout the world. As God's children, when we gather around the altar, pulpit and font, we are continuously given whopping slices of heaven-- enough to strengthen faith to know exactly what we've received fully (Jesus! Even if we can't see him face to face yet), and enough to tantalize our souls to reach out and tell our neighbors where to receive this eternal feast, too!
For this temporal city of Philadelphia will pass away. This is Good News since we hope in the New Jerusalem all the more. Christ is the New Jerusalem, and he is here at Shepherd of the City and all faithful churches for you.