Last night we had a wonderful evening tracing what the Bible has to say about the City as well as praying, dreaming and discussing about future direction our city ministry could take after the cafe ministry ends on November 30th 2018. If you weren't able to make it, but want fuel to pray or an opportunity to contribute suggestions - then you can relive the evening and working through the prayer material below. If you have any suggestions or contributions, please just reply to this e-mail or contact David.Nixon@carrubbers.org
Have you come across the Edinburgh City 2050 Vision project? People across the city are being asked to dream about what the city could be like in 30 years time, as they complete this sentence: “In 2050 my Edinburgh will be…”.
As Christians we believe that Jesus has bigger and better dreams for the future of this city and its citizens. We as a church want to play our unique part in the mission of God in Edinburgh - as we pray “Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done – On Earth [In Edinburgh] as it is in heaven” and ask God to align us with His heart and purposes as we “seek first His kingdom and His righteous ways”. That’s why we’re here tonight.
The theme of city is an important thread that runs throughout the Bible. The Bible begins in Genesis 1-2 with God’s work of creation and climaxes with human beings living with God in a beautiful Garden, given the commission to cultivate and develop its potentials for the glory of God. The Bible finishes in Revelation 21-22 with God’s work of new creation, with redeemed humans living with God in a beautiful Garden-City, which has been prepared by Jesus for His people. In between, there runs a thread of the conflict between the City of Sin and the City of God:
- Wanderers built the first city as a place for safety and from there began developing human culture, creativity, industry, etc. (Genesis 4)
- Rebels built the city of Babel with its sinful intent to “make a name for themselves” – glorying in man’s autonomy without need for God (Genesis 11). Later, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are infamous for becoming places of extreme immorality, injustice and inhumanity, which fall under God’s judgement (Genesis 18).
- Israel were called to be city builders and rebuilders. God chose the city of Jerusalem on the hill of zion to be the place where He would place his name in his temple – a shining beacon in the midst of a world of darkness.
- After Jerusalem was destroyed and its people deported in the exile, Israel were called to be city lovers in Babylon: “Seek the peace/shalom and prosperity of the city to which I have sent you” (Jeremiah 29). They were to be an outpost of Jerusalem (the city of shalom/peace) as we lived and worked for the common good of people in the city of Babylon.
- In the New Testament, Christians were missionaries to the city. Jerusalem and Antioch were the centres for the early Christian movement, and the apostle Paul’s missionary expeditions targeted the major population and cultural centres of his day for strategic gospel work (e.g. Rome: political; Corinth: commercial; Ephesus: religious).
So a city has a great deal of potential – Tim Keller puts it this way: "the city is like a magnifying glass, bringing out both the best and the worst in human beings". In our first section of prayer we’re going to reflect and pray about the Lordship of Jesus and God’s heart for the city.
(1) TIME FOR ORIENTING OURSELVES IN THE WORD
Prayer Station 1: The Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Christ
- “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations” (Isaiah 61:1-4)
- “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18)
- “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven… Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:10, 33)
- “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:1-5)
- “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church” (Ephesians 1:19-22 NLT)
- “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:13-20)
Prayer Station 2: The Heart of God For The City & Its People
- God will judge the immorality, injustice and inhumanity of the city: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon The Great… For all the nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living…. So will Babylon the Great City be thrown down with violence and will be found no more” (Revelation 18)
- God cares about the lost population of the city: “Should not I have compassion on Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11)
- God commissions His people to serve the common good in the city: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:5-7)
- God commissions us to be His witnesses to the city: “The Lord said to Paul one night in a vision: Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Acts 18:9-10)
- God’s intention to bless the city: “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown” (Proverbs 11:10)
- Edinburgh’s Motto: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1)
- God’s displeasure at the cultural idols produced in the city: “Now while Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16)
(2) TIME PRAYING FOR THE CITY
Cities are often the places where culture is created and new ideas formed, before flowing out to the rest of the nation (and increasing in our globalised age, out to the world). As ambassadors for King Jesus, we want to embody the counter-cultural values of His kingdom, as we live, love, show and tell the gospel.
Prayer Station 3: Gospel Initiatives and Opportunities in the City
Here are some existing organisations which are seeking to make a difference for Christ in the city whom we can support in prayer:
- Scripture Union
- Young Life
- Edinburgh City Mission
- Christians in Sport
- Friends International
- Bethany Christian Trust
- Christians Against Poverty
- Other gospel churches and new church plants
- Bible Colleges
- Underbelly Street Cafe
Think of Christians you know who are involved in some of these sectors/spheres of society (Government, Education, Healthcare, Finance, The Arts, Industry, Scholarship, Media, Family Services, etc.) - pray for them by name to be faithful in making a difference for Christ in these places:
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16)
Station 4: Personal Gospel Frontlines Around the City
Praying for our personal gospel frontlines (around a map of the city, with people marking where God has placed them to shine and speak for Him) - with prompts to pray for neighbours, colleagues, kids' schools, sports clubs, etc. Pray that we would be fruitful in making a difference for Jesus: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples...You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should last” (John 15:8,16).
Mark Greene suggests there are 6M's for being fruitful for God in our different spheres of influence/frontlines for mission:
- Modelling Godly character: display the fruit of the Holy Spirit in midst of whatever you're doing.
- Making good work: do your ordinary tasks with God's help for God's glory.
- Ministering grace and love: take the initiative to serve, bless and go above-and-beyond for the sake of others.
- Moulding the culture: contribute to the way things work to better reflect God's values.
- Being a mouth-piece for truth and justice: speak up for yourself or others when treated unfairly.
- Being a messenger of the gospel: intentionally seeking to share Christ, what He has done for a bad and broken world in the gospel and the real difference He makes in our lives.
(3) TIME DREAMING AND PRAYING ABOUT OUR FUTURE MINISTRY IN THE CITY & NATION
The big question: "If we could do anything with the former cafe space and budget - to make a difference for God's kingdom, to make Jesus famous in this city, to see lives transformed by the gospel - what would be your dream?" We'll have time for people to discuss and pray in smaller groups, and there will be a table with a sheet of paper for people to start writing down things from their discussions.