In late 2010 I had a chapter published in a book called Discovering the Spirit in the City. My piece recounted the story of a winter afternoon with a bunch of students. The truth of the meeting is that they were a hard group to motivate, so struggling for something new, I got them to pull their chairs up to the windows overlooking the street. We looked out on a derelict site which had recently been cleared of six vacant shop units.
Through the February drizzle I asked them to engage in an act of imagination. Imagine the Kingdom of God has come onto and into that derelict piece of land. The only resource I gave them was two verses from the book of Zechariah,
“Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with a cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.” (8:4,5)
Their task was to make the Kingdom vision concrete on a real city street. All contributions of the sappy, amorphous sort were banned – so no “everybody will love each other” comments.
Over the course of the next hour we were inspired, and funnily enough, many of the things they imagined that day did actually take shape on that site by the end of that year.
I’ve done that exercise twice since then, with two very different groups and each time I have been deeply moved by what this imaginative exercise leads us to, and how it can radically broaden our thinking of what constitutes a Kingdom act.
I want to blog some brief comments on each of those episodes as part of the City Futures posts.