Advent week 2: PEACE

Praying for the Shalom of our Cities

Shalom is the Hebrew term for peace. In scripture the term shalom always points towards the transcendent action of wholeness in people, to treaties and in prayer for the well-being of cities or nations (Ps 122:6, Jeremiah 29:7).

A few years ago I did a summer internship studying the core downtown of Montreal and helped write a 50 page exegetical study of our findings. To understand cities it’s important to understand how fast they’re growing. There is very little happening in our world today that is not urban. Our world is now over 50% urban and by 2025 it will be up to over 60%. In Canada, over 80% of people live in a city. The increasing influence of city on culture makes it more and more important for us to learn about what cities are and how they are formed.

In our study, we may ask the question, ‘What does the Creator think about cities, or in particular my city, my neighborhood?’ To the Israelite people in bondage in a foreign city, God said, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord for it; for… … in its welfare you will have welfare.” Translated in the passage as welfare is the Hebrew word shalom or peace. which means more than just the absence of conflict. Shalom is construction or reconstruction of all things in their completed state – all things meaning people, relationships, housing systems, the environment, economics, educational systems, art, governance, law. . Shalom is the peace experience when everything is as it should be. Going to the very heart of God’s intentions and desires for creation, the word refers to a state of fulfillment resulting from God’s presence and covenant relationship with God’s people. It encompasses ideas of completeness, harmony and well-being.

As we reflect on peace this season of advent, I encourage you to think about your city and neighborhood. Where is God’s peace or shalom missing and how can you start praying for it? My hope and prayer is for a mighty move of Jesus, our ‘Prince of Peace’, in all of our cities this Christmas season.

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