Blue Coat School 19/11/03
Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah 29.7
I don't know how many people prayed that Liverpool would win the bid to become International Capital of Culture; we can be sure that there were people in Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff praying as well - their disappointment and our joy could get us into complicated conversations about how prayer works.
But seeking the peace and prosperity of the city we live in, is more than about winning a competition, however lucrative that might be. It's something which, as good citizens, we should be doing daily, in small acts of kindness and generosity which bring richness to the city's life, and by our involvement in projects and activities which have this same aim. Many of us are.
For some, prayer is involved: prayer about what we can do to enrich Liverpool's life, prayer for people we know and see around us. Many good citizens are motivated by a vision of the city, a picture of the place not as it is now, but how it could be in the future. That in itself is a sort of prayer; it's an expression of hope which motivates us to action.
I'd like to share with you a vision of Liverpool - what it might be like in the future. A friend of mine wrote it and I've adapted it. I've a vague feeling I may have read it in a Blue Coat assembly before but whether or not you've heard it I hope you might find something in this vision which will stir up the citizen in you today....
I saw a vision:
it was last Thursday at eleven o'clock in the morning.
I was standing at the top of Brownlow Hill, looking down over the city
and the cold, blue autumn sky broke open over my head
and the Spirit of God breathed on my eyes and my eyes were opened:
I saw Liverpool, the holy city, coming down out of heaven
shining like a rare jewel, sparkling like clear water in the eye of the sun
and all the sickness was gone from the city
and there were no more suburbs and estates
no difference between Grassendale and Granby
I saw the Mersey running with the water of life,
as bright as crystal,
as clear as glass
the children of Liverpool swimming in it
And the Spirit showed me the tree of life
growing in Sefton Park
I looked out and there were no more homeless people
there were no women working the streets
there were no more junkies up the closes
HIV and AIDS were things of the past
there were no more racist attacks
no more attacks on gay people
no more rapists
no more stabbings
no more Protestants and Catholics
no more IRA graffiti, no more Orange marches
because there was no more hate
and I saw women walking safe at nights
and the men were full of passion and gentleness
and none of the children were ever abused
because the people's sex was full of justice and joy.
I saw an old woman throw back her head
and laugh like a young girl
and when the sky closed back her laughter rang in my head
for days and days
and would not go away.
This is what I saw, looking across to the Liver Buildings,
looking up from the city of death
and I knew then that there would be a day of resurrection
and I believe that there will be a day of resurrection.
Adapted from 'The Prophet's Speech', in Words From The Late Late Service, Glasgow 1993