Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.

Last Wednesday I sat down at Riverfront Park for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Minto Brown walking bridge. The mayor spoke. Senator Peter Courtney, whom the bridge is named after, also had some wonderful words to say. Then the crowd gathered at the bridge entrance for the ceremonial ribbon cutting.
It was a great day in Salem. Not only because the bridge now connects 1,300 acres of parks and more than 30 miles of off-street trails. Not only because the acreage of connected parks is now larger than that of New York City’s Central Park.
It was a great day because of the number of people from all walks of life that came together to celebrate something that unites us, rather than complain about what divides us.
I like that. I like that kind of spirit. I like that kind of community.
It feels like Shalom.
The name Salem means Shalom and Shalom means Peace.
City of Peace.
It may not feel like “peace” in your neck of the woods, cul de sac, workplace, neighborhood or home. But that is exactly what we are to pray for. We are invited in Scripture to pray for the peace and prosperity of the city. The children of Israel, whom were taken into captivity, were instructed in Jeremiah 29:7 to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
It’s interesting to note that this was not a city within the “Promised Land,” but rather, a place of exile. In other words they were not feeling “at home.” It was NOT where they ultimately wanted to be.
The same is true of us as followers of Jesus. This is not our home. We are exiles here. Oh, you may feel like you’re in the Promised Land with your nice house, family, job and money. But in truth, we are actually living in EXILE. And while in exile, we are to live fully and pray actively, while not getting too comfortable. While we are here, actually placed here by the Lord, we ought to seek and pray for the peace (Shalom) of God to rest upon this land.
And while we’re at it: let’s build bridges. Bridges of relationship to the lost and lonely. Bridges of grace and truth to the seekers. Bridges of hope to the desperate and depressed.
There’s so much that can potentially divide us, and that we can decide to be AGAINST, but that’s not what we, as followers of Jesus are about. There’s so much more to be FOR.