Like many, I’ve been glued to the news and stories emerging from Europe’s refugee crisis these last few weeks. I followed friends’ first-hand accounts of what it has been like in the Keleti train station in Budapest as they serve the migrants and listen to their stories. I’ve read articles detailing the political dynamics as leaders fumble for some kind of solution and way forward. I became choked up watching the videos of the refugees walking out of Budapest toward Germany, and celebrated with them when they finally reached their ‘promised land’ and were warmly greeted by cheers and aid.
Of course, this is not some Hollywood happy ending. In these days of complex questions, the only things we know for sure is that people will continue to flee their countries while there is mayhem and violence, and that those who have arrived now face the difficulty of making a new home in a foreign land, adapting to strange customs and language. I pray that the refugees streaming toward Germany and Austria will continue to experience a taste of God’s compassion for their suffering through the kindness of strangers along their way.
I’ve been spending some time with the prophets these days—it’s amazing how apropos their words, intended for ancient kingdoms and peoples, still are for modern governments.
Lamenting violence and foretelling the fall of kingdoms, the suffering of the righteous and the weak, the fleeing of peoples from more powerful oppressors—well, one can agree with Solomon that nothing is new under the sun.
But Isaiah 60 in particular continues to germinate in my mind— a foretaste of hope for the people of God. The future kingdom of God is lit by God’s glory, bursting with righteousness and justice, peace oozing through the crevasses and cracks of the streets and houses. This is a place that everyone wants to get to—they are attracted to the incandescent light, drawn to the beauty of it all. They begin to stream toward the city of God, from all corners of the earth—individuals, families, animals.
But they are not coming desperate and traumatized, fleeing situations of fear and instability. Rather, they come testifying their own tales of ‘good news’ about the Lord and bearing the material and cultural riches from their countries—wealth in every form and fashion intended to enrich the city and embellish the celebration of God.
I’ve been musing at the fact that the movement of people is both an age-old phenomenon and one that will still be a reality in the future. But even this ‘movement’ will be transformed. People will be coming weighed down by their gifts and contributions, attracted to goodness and anticipating basking in peace and justice.
The future city is not just a haven of safety—it is the Alpha and the Omega—the perfect intersection of desire, fulfillment, offering, service and creativity which culminates into an ever deepening and expanding beauty and joy.
**For a great read on this chapter in Isaiah: When the Kings Come Marching In by Richard Mouw