Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Vindicating New Orleans
Ancient cities had a way of disappearing.
Many factors could be responsible for the demise of a city in biblical times. Famine, war, pestilence, invasion and captivity, to name a few.
During the period of Babylonian exile, Jerusalem basically disappeared.
Oh, there were a few stalwart souls who managed to evade their captors. Some weren't wanted for the journey to Babylon. Others came along later to take up residence in the abandoned city. Squatters and boudoins.
But, for all practical purposes, Jerusalem disappeared for about two generations beginning in the 6th century B.C.E.
The last third or so of the book of the Hebrew prophet Isaiah is devoted to hope-filled words about urban renewal in the abandoned city of David. At least two distinct voices seem to take up the cause of championing the rebuilding and renovation of the ancient city left in ruins.
As I listened to my preacher on Sunday reading from Isaiah 62, my mind moved quickly to my recent observations of New Orleans, America's lost city.
The words of the prophet provided me a vision of hope.
Maybe if you read the words with my modern adaptation thrown in for good measure, you'll see what I mean.
"For New Orleans' sake I will not keep silent,
and for New Orleans' sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out
like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
"The nations shall see your
and all the world leaders and politicians your glory;
and you shall be called by a
that the mouth of the Lord
"You shall be a crown of beauty in
the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand
of your God.
"You shall no more be termed
and your region shall no more be
but you shall be called My Delight
Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
"For as a young man marries a
so shall your builders marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices
over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice
"Upon your city limits, O New Orleans,
I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
they shall never be silent.
You who remind the Lord,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes New Orleans
and makes it renowned
throughout the earth." (Isaiah 62:1-6)
Like Jerusalem, New Orleans can be vindicated if at least three things happen.
1) People of vision and faith must take courageous, risky action for the now "forsaken" and "desolate" city. Had people of vision and faith not taken action, Jerusalem would not have been re-populated or renewed. New Orleans waits for brave leaders to step up and take over.
2) People with power, influence and political and economic capital must invest sacrificially in the city's renewal. Again, in the case of Jerusalem, had the powerful of the day not taken decisive action, the city would not have come back.
3) People who love the city must become engaged at the level of the heart and soul. In other words, New Orleans will not be vindicated nor given a new name (read "lease on life" and "new identity") unless people who recognize the power of the spiritual get involved.
I am praying for the vindication of this great city.
I invite you to do so as well.