New Creation Growing in the Inner City

It was with delighted surprise that I stepped out of the office at lunchtime today, into the crisp autumn sunshine, to have my senses surrounded by the smell of cut grass and the sound of a lawnmower and the sight of clumps of cut grass on the lawn.

Yes! The lawn…across the road from the Stepping Stone building on the Newtownards Road in the middle of inner east Belfast. The community garden really is a garden now that we have to cut the grass. Here is a picture of the site, after last November’s demolition of the shop units.


And here it is following the creation of the garden. It’s a fantastic promise of what could be even in a place as blighted as inner East.

I’m reminded of the vision of the heavenly city in the book of Revelation. In it, all the best parts of Eden are present, but now the garden is surrounded by the City. I imagine that this is the end result of the creation mandate given in Genesis 2:15,

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Generations and centuries of working and ‘taking care’ sees the Garden transformed into a urban space which¬† surrounds Eden. Eden has grown and expanded, because God knew, even as he pronounced the Garden was good, that it was unfinished, so its residents were put to work and together, God and those in his image, built a city. Speaking of that City in his vision, John the Revelator writes ion Revelation 22:1-3,

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

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