Closing Reflection, Joy in Enough Conference, 29 March 2014
In the Shadow of the Shard
by Peter Grimwood
A prayer/reflection used at the Christian Ecology Link Conference on March 29th. The theme of the Conference was Joy in Enough
Once upon a time, a long time ago or was it only yesterday God’s people found themselves in a strange city-an unreal city-the capital apparently of the whole world.
It was full of wealth and prosperity and the trade of the world passed through its streets. Such a great city! All nations have drunk the wine of her impure passions and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury. (Rev 18:3)
Behold a city of towers-each one taller than the last. We have seen them, we know their names: the gherkin, the cheese grater, the shard. Temples to the cities gods. Those who built them wanted to make a name for themselves (Gen 11) and they succeeded. They spoke one language and although their speech sounded very diverse to travellers on the Circle Line whatever it sounded like it meant the same; give me money and stuff and enhanced GDP but above all give me growth. The Lord came down to see the city and the towers which the mortals had built. And the Lord said “Look they are one people, and they have all one language and this is only the beginning of what they will do. (11 v 6)They call it globalisation-the oikumene of money, growth and power-a household built on greed and fear. A long way from my oikumene of love, justice, grace and abundance- a household built on love and joy.
And the Lord’s people were sad and they missed their other city-Zion the city of the living God-the city that was once and is yet to come. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? (Psalm 137) How can we? All we who are here today know is that we must!
Two cities-one that reaches up to the heavens and the other the city that comes from above. In the first city the value of each life is given a price recorded in the ledgers of the actuaries but in the city that comes from above life and healing are offered to all as a gift.
Ho! Ho! said the wise besuited ones that’s preposterous – just a silly myth. We know better for we have studied free market economics. We understand econometrics, derivatives and other complex financial instruments. Just get real!
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many
I had not thought death had undone so many.
(T S Eliot The Waste Land l 60-4)
We know that we must change the myths we live by. We must dream new dreams- dreams of a real city founded on life and light, hope and joy and grace and abundance not just for some but for all. Wise investment will make this possible. One day gherkins will be eaten and cheese will be grated and the Shard will no longer cast its shadow but will become a climbing frame for our sisters.
As we contemplate the scorched earth and the flooded field and the beggar in the doorway we might say; in all my years I’ve never seen anything like it. Such elegiac thoughts make sense as we ask ourselves what we have done but now a new question is needed. What can we do?
When God restores the fortunes of his people
Then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
Without you O God nothing is real,
All things are open to corruption
And we are deadened by deceit;
Do not abandon us to our folly,
but give us hearts that seek you
and, at the last, joy in your heavenly city;
through Jesus Christ our Lord