The best things in life are usually born out of the worst. The Nashville flood of May 2010 was in many ways the birthplace of New Nashville. Almost 14 inches of rain fell on the city during a 36 hour period. Our friends, families and city lost so much. Possessions, houses, neighborhoods and portions of the city were submerged; but not the hope and spirit of the people. The united effort in response to the flood was unparalleled. It is estimated that volunteers put in over 50,000 hours to help those all over the city!
It was during this remarkable time that a diverse group of us began asking an admittedly odd question: What would the city of Nashville look like if it looked more like the city of God? We’ve seen what Nashville looks like when we unite to help each other. Things will eventually be restored. Then what? What would it look like for Nashville to be a city that God was continually shaping?
The answer didn’t come immediately, but it came over time and in a single yet profound word – Shalom. Shalom is a Hebrew word that refers to “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in fulfillment…a universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – in other words, the way things ought to be.” Shalom resonated with us then and it still does.
The prophets spoke of an age to come in which human crookedness would be straightened out, the foolish would be made wise, and the wise would be humbled. They spoke of a time when deserts would flower, people would work in peace and all humans would again be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; a time when cities would be places of refuge, safety, prosperity and creativity; a time when all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God, and delight in God; a time in which all mourning, death, crying and pain would be banished. We read the prophets Habakkuk and Isaiah who declare that “the earth will be filled with the glory of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the seas” (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:9). That means Nashville will be filled with the glory of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters covered our city. That’s a good thing.
More contemporary ‘prophets’ of our age speak of shalom. In some of the most famous words ever uttered upon American soil, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
We believe when people from various backgrounds, faith traditions and spiritual beliefs come together to look at the surprising value of Jesus through the lens of contemporary culture, the experience of this small step will lead to the even greater flourishing of Nashville. Sounds grandiose, but we actually have reason to think it’s true.
That’s why Wednesday nights starting in October, we are hosting New Nashville Gatherings at the Blood:Water Mission on Cannery Row!
What exactly is the New Nashville Gathering? It is a safe place where churchgoers and non-churchgoers come together at the same time to eat, enjoy, listen and ask. The schedule of the evenings looks like this:
• Appetizers 5:30 – 6:00 pm
• Pertinent Message 6:00 – 6:20 pm
• Q&A 6:20 – 7:00 pm
Come be a part of seeking the shalom of our city, a new Nashville.
 Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be (Eerdmans, 1995).
 Timothy Keller, Stewardship - Kingdom, Mission, and Money (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2008).
 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream,” August 28, 1963, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm)