I always hated the idea of living in London.

It seemed to me to be a place full of strangers.

I love the experience of being known. Of walking down the street and stopping every few steps for a smile or a catch up. Of walking into a pub where my order’s ready on the bar before I’ve even crossed the hearth. I grew up in rural Dorset; I had only ever known what it was to be recognised and part of a community.

Sponsored

Even when I moved away to Liverpool, I discovered that through the communities of students and of the church, even a city (as long as it was a small one) could be a place where you are known.

But London was different. London and loneliness seemed irrevocably linked. So, when I was praying about where I would go after I finished my studies, my prayer was simple, Lord, send me anywhere, just don’t send me to London.”

I have lived in London for the last 18 years. This lonely city, full of strangers, has become my home. There is so much joy and vitality in this city, the streets pulsate with strange languages, bizarre foods, exotic clothes and vibrant art. Everywhere there are people sharing life and caring for their neighbours. But this is also a city full of brokenness, people hurting others and being hurt in return. The injustice of the world is encapsulated within the M 25 . The rich get richer, while the poor go hungry. Young people are stabbed on the streets and women are murdered as they simply walk home. This city is my community. I am part of it, I am responsible for it and it is in desperate need of some good news.

But the good news is good news is here!

Once upon a time, the most beautiful, benevolent, powerful and gracious being danced across eternity. There were three persons united in an infinite relationship of love, sacrifice and generosity. Everywhere the deity went, life spilled out. Creation overflowed like a fountain unable to contain its abundance. Intentionality, exuberance and sheer unbridled joy brought all things into existence. The centrepiece of this epic symphony was humanity, infused with the very breath of life itself. Made in the image and likeness of God, man and woman stood at the heart of creation and all was as it should be. Creative, dynamic, powerful creatures — humanity reflected the character of God — able to bless and steward and nurture the world around them. There was peace and it was good.

But all great stories have a twist — a crisis — the moment where a choice is made and cannot be unmade. And this is the greatest story, so our twist is to be the most terrible.

A choice was made that ripped humanity from the dance of life and left us to stagnate in the monotony of existence. No longer was it possible for us to live at peace, in perfect harmonious order and relationship with creation, others and God. We were left impregnated with longing, yet impotent to change. Yearning to be known, yet never able to comprehend what had been lost. Pain, alienation, destruction, brokenness and cruelty became our reality. This is the terrible curse on humanity passed on from generation to generation.

Sin has infused our story, it deforms us, disorders our relationships and ultimately destroys the world. We are both responsible for it and enslaved by it. Sin is all that is wrong in the world. It is darkness, injustice and evil. It is everywhere and all-consuming.

As our story unfolds, retold in the pages of the Bible, each chapter reveals the desperate heart of God to bring creation to its intended state and for Him to be reconciled with His beloved children. Through a family, a people, then a nation, God builds a community of people dedicated to Him and covenanted in relationship. Though they remained in sin, God kept demonstrating His mercy, His compassion and His desire to restore humanity back to Himself while at the same time showing how incapable they were to do it for themselves.

Their story is our story, and though our story is twisted by a choice, it turns on a person. At the epicentre of this epic tale is Jesus. The arrival of the Nazarene into occupied first-century Palestine changes everything. The source of life Himself entered human history, born of flesh and blood, yet God’s beloved Son Jesus heralds a new order, a new reality and a new kingdom. Through His life, His teaching, His actions and ultimately His death, resurrection and return to God the Father, Jesus is the gospel — the good news that we are not forever lost, that hope wins. Through the with-us God, sin is dealt with, enmity with God is conquered and our culpability is exchanged for friendship. Peace is possible and love can flourish.

At the cross, Jesus experienced the effects of humanity’s fall from God. There was no greater depth of depravity than to kill God’s own Son. All was death. He who was life died. But death could not hold Him. As He burst forth, a new creation erupted in the midst of this one. At the very beginning it was through Him that creation began, and once again it is by His sacrifice that this new creation is birthed. It is with Him that God’s kingdom will advance. The God-man has done what we could not. In Him we can be reformed, remade and reborn. The breath of God fills our lungs. Eternity with Him starts the moment you accept His story as your own.

The good news of Jesus is that we are all invited to one day find ourselves at the end of our story in a great city, where humanity has re-joined the dance of life, revealed as the bride of our magnificent creator. We can be reunited with our king, the abundance of life flows again and the longing in the heart of each of us can be quenched.

London is a great city. But there is a city which is greater. A city where life flows like a river, where healing grows on a tree, where tears are wiped away, where people can enter freely to be with their God who is also their friend. A city where everyone is truly known. That is good news for me, good news for you and good news for London.

It is good news for the whole world.