As I drove in to work this morning, I heard on the radio that Gord Downie passed away earlier this week at the age of 53. For those of you, who like me haven't the faintest idea who he was, let me share what I have learned. He was apparently a big deal in Canada as the lead singer of the band The Tragically Hip. A big enough deal that Canadian PM Justin Trudeau spoke about his passing and got fairly emotional doing so. The radio station I was listening to played a portion of his remarks and a phrase stuck out to me. He said that Gord loved Canada and not in a nebulous way but that he loved every corner and story and aspect of the country. He then said that as great as Gord believed Canada was he knew it needed to be better and that he worked towards that end.
Hearing that emotional statement from Canada's leader about a musician's life and impact got me thinking. It reminded me of what Alaina shared with us on Sunday from Jeremiah 29. Most of us know verse 11 in which God assures the exiles that He has good plans for them. We are less familiar with the verses that precede it and are foundational to it and that Alaina reminded us of. Verses 4 through 7 tell the exiles to seek the good of the city that has exiled them. They are instructed to seek its "shalom", its holistic peace, because in that will be found their shalom.
As I connected these two thoughts, I realized what is so distressing at times in this day of deep divisions, strife and protest. So often the voices railing in our culture are one-note voices and that note is anger. It is usually either the anger of protest or the anger of defensiveness. Too often it seems that it is hard to tell whether the angry people love the people or the country they are angry with. And far too often, our voices as followers of Jesus are of that one-note variety. It is not only possible, it is necessary, as ambassadors of the gospel of reconciliation that we seek the shalom of our cities. This means that we are neither complacent about those things that hinder shalom, nor that we approach those hindrances without a deep love for our city. Not an abstract love of a nebulous idea, but the kind of love that Trudeau praised in Gord Downie. Like I said, I don't know anything about the man other than what I heard this morning. I do know that if I died, I'd want someone to be able to say of me that I loved my city that deeply and truly and that that love drove me to seek its shalom.