God is a city planner. He cares about cities. Some people dream of a quieter, rural life, but at least in the Christian view, God is dreaming of a city (Revelation 21.1-4). God’s dream city is teeming with people. The word “multitude” is repeated again and again in the last book of the Bible. The city God dreams about, and some of us have been joining him in his dream, is described as “new” and “prepared” and “adorned.” It is a place where God dwells with his people, and they no longer have tears. Death, mourning, pain, and “the former things have passed away.”
There are conceptual drawings of a new San Pedro Public Market in the old Ports O’ Call. There is new focus on a “Little Italy.” The former Ponte Vista, now named Highpark Development, is taking shape. There will always be strong opinions connected to how cities change, density intensifies, and driving slows. A Duffy Nelson proverb is always timely, “Make change a friend, and you will have a friend for life.” There isn’t just one Old San Pedro story. There are numerous stories. One thing is consistent in San Pedro’s history: change. Persistent change can be a lifelong companion that ultimately gets us ready for the biggest change that the “making all things new” city-planning God will bring down from heaven one day.
In the meantime, we participate in the city amid all her changes through faithful citizenship, loyal dissent, heartfelt support, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We can also pray. I’ve been sitting out in my Peanuts-style Lucy booth, and finding myself praying for the city of San Pedro. As I’ve come to know some of my neighbors, I find myself praying “insider” prayers, rooted in real people, names, faces, problems, and allies.
Here is a sample “Prayer for San Pedro” that you might want to join me in praying:
Gracious God of San Pedro, we pray for our city. We love her, and we know you love her. Thank you for her natural beauty and fair climate. Thank you for the various cultures that helped build San Pedro into the city it is today. Thank you for hard working, industrious, and committed folks that created and improved and built and rebuilt this great city to be a place that has attracted many to our shores. Thank you also for new communities that bring new gifts, sounds, tastes, and personality to San Pedro.
We also ask for forgiveness for taking our blessings for granted. Forgive us for taking the easy road of blame, cheap criticism, and uncommitted selfishness. We have expected a few to fix our problems. Forgive us for participating in the darkness, or cursing the darkness instead of shining the light. We turn to you for a fresh start.
We pray that the children of San Pedro may grow up in a community that cares more about whole homes than property prices. We pray for their schools, teachers, coaches, mentors, and neighbors. May they be people and places of safety and authentic love.
We pray for the youth of San Pedro. Many are “under construction” on the inside as they discover who they are, how they have been made, and for what and for whom they are made. Give them a profound sense of their own value in your eyes and in ours.
We pray for the adults of San Pedro. Give freedom to those bound by something, a clear sense of calling for those who are aimless, provision for those in any kind of need, healing for every kind of ailment. We ask you to find any who are lost.
We pray for the elders of San Pedro. May they feel the honor that befits their age. Take away the ungodly philosophy that makes any of our grandparents say, “I don’t want to be a burden.” Help them know that they are the opposite of burden, but that their very presence is a blessing.
Now, we ask for your amazing grace to fill every inhabitant, every home, and every neighborhood in San Pedro. Amen.
Nathan Hoff is the Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in San Pedro. Follow his blog at trinitypastor.blogspot.com.