I Love This Town!

blogsidewalksLvivWho remembers that line from Ghostbusters? I think it was Winston Zedemore who yelled it as they went out to fight spooks in Manhattan. I can’t agree more. I love this town. Ten years and Lviv hasn’t grown old for even a second. I have found, over the years, that I love reading about the theology of cities. Timothy Gorringe’s “A Theology of the Built Environment” and Eric O. Jacobsen’s “Sidewalks in the Kingdom”, and anything by Robert D. Putnam are all modern texts that really delve into the purpose of villages, towns, and cities, and how God wants to redeem them for His purposes. I’m in love with cities and the theologians that also care about them.

  • “So much of our Christian literature seems to be focused on the question of whether and how we can save our cities. It seems to me that we need to adjust this approach and begin to look for ways that our cities can save us. I mean save here not in the sense of salvation from sin—only Christ can do that—but rather save our souls from the damaging effects of uglification, standardization, privatization, and mass consumerism that have fueled this historically unprecedented appetite for sprawl in our country. But to receive the blessings that our cities (historic downtowns and traditional neighborhoods) can provide for us, we need to learn to see our cities once again.” – Sidewalks in the Kindom

This morning Marissa and I went out to purchase some small thank you gifts for some kind people from EV Free in California, who sent their short-term team members with little gifts, mainly for our kids. Some pink birthday cake mixes. Some almond butter. A powerful magnifying glass for my two Sid the Science kids (we’re obsessed).

As we are out, we run into kids from youth group, some youth leaders from California, one of our shop keepers who just repainted her store.

  • “There is not, therefore, a stigma attached to being a stranger. Cities are among the few places where strangers are accepted, and consequently, people who have no significant network of people come to cities because they can. This is significant for Christians, because the Bible holds hospitality— especially hospitality for strangers—in high regard.”

We love the city. We love the general Lviv community. Being involved in city institutions, whether it is churches, schools, hospitals, prisons – these places connect you to some of the heartbeat of a city. Walking everywhere. Sharing public transportation. Watching several people get arrested yesterday (!!). These are all daily occurrences that happen when you choose to be a part of the city life around you.

  • “If we are inconvenienced or annoyed by living, working, and playing in the company of our fellow human beings, perhaps we need liberation from our selfishness and our willfulness rather than a massive home on a two-acre lot (soon to be surrounded by other massive homes on two-acre lots). Living in closer proximity to our neighbors forces us to make compromises of our needs and wants—sometimes allowing us to learn the difference between the two. And as we navigate the delicate balance between our needs and those of our neighbors, we are presented with opportunities to take social risks and talk to our neighbors as we come up with mutually acceptable solutions.” 

blogIlovethistown

This week at camp we connected to various teens from the city. Here we are at follow-up, doing a long tour of the city and High Castle. Some teens with us were actually from small towns and villages, hoping to move to the big city in order to get a good education after high school. We pray that our church, our Christian community of young people devoted to Jesus, will be a home away from home for all these teenagers. We know that God wants to redeem Lviv for His purposes. It is a joy and privilege to still be in love with the city after all these years. (And what a view!) Yet we still recognized the huge task at hand as we hope to reach every teenager and their schools with the Good News of Jesus. One million people. 86 secondary schools. Thousands of teachers, administrators, parents. May we never grow weary of the task at hand.

  • “Unlike America, Europe has managed to preserve and develop its urban traditions into the present age. As a result, it has some of the most interesting and vibrant cities in the world. However, it is in Europe that we have seen the church experience the most radical decline in influence over the past century or so. This fact should remind us that even the best-designed and most charming cities will not automatically support the aims of the kingdom of God. The church cannot, and never could, rely on external forms of either ecclesial or civic institutions to guarantee the success of its mission.”

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