Once upon a time, there was a community not unlike our own nestled in a valley at the foot of a tall mountain.
There came a time in its history when the community was mired in conflict, confusion, chaos, and hopelessness.
In a small corner of the community, there was a Builder named Nicholas.
His greatest heart's desire was to design and build a beautiful City on a Hill, that would lift people up out of the darkness and despair of life in The Valley, and serve as a Fortress of Hope and Inspiration for generations to come.
He spent decades thinking, praying, discerning, and designing the intricate details of a Community where people could flourish in harmony with the Creator, One Another, and All Creation.
Many in the community of The Valley thought it was a preposterous idea. The more The Valley drifted towards Chaos and confusion, the more abstract and out of touch the Idea of a flourishing and vibrant City on a Hill became. They called him a madman and a dreamer, they rejected and slandered him, and the authorities of The Valley sought to tear down his resources and reputation.
Despite the hardship, Nicholas knew that he would be betraying his soul and purpose if he did not work tirelessly to realize what the Creator had placed on his heart since his earliest memories.
After many years of designing, the plans were laid, and Nicholas climbed up to the heights of the sacred mountain to begin work on the Magnificent City he dreamed of, for the benefit, inspiration, and protection of the community of The Valley.
As he began work, the villagers began to come out to see what he was building. The children mocked him and threw stones. A little girl shouted derisively "That is not a Magnificent City! It's a terrible pile of rubble."
"Wait and see, little one," he replied. "Someday this Great City may come to help you more than you know."
Another villager came by and said "Where is the well? How will the Great City get water?"
"A wonderful question," the builder said. "Let us review the plans and specifications together and see, perhaps you could help improve them."
The next day the villager came back with the local well expert. They reviewed the plans and specifications, made some improvements, and fixed the location of the well.
"Wonderful," the builder said. "Now we have a wise design for nourishing the Great City with Living Water."
The local pastor came by a few days later, and asked "Where will the church be in the Great City?"
"A wonderful question," the builder said. "Let us review the plans and specifications together and see, perhaps you could help improve them." They reviewed the plans, and agreed that the Corner of Faith and Hope right along the Town Square would be a perfect location.
The pastor was delighted, and a week later he brought back some volunteers to review the plans, and to ask the Builder if they could begin laying foundations for the Corner of Faith and Hope. They were truly eager to begin building the church.
"That is a wonderful idea," the Builder replied. "It would definitely help progress to begin laying the foundations for the Corner of Faith and Hope. We will just need a surveyor to lay out the streets and the boundaries around Town Square."
"My uncle is a surveyor," one of the young men replied. "I am sure he would be delighted to come lay out the Town Square and the Corner of Faith and Hope so we could begin."
That weekend, a large crowd was up on the hill, surveying the town, setting stakes, marking corners, and imagining how beautiful the view from the Church and the Great City would be.
A respected older man in the community approached the Builder out of the crowd. "I have carefully looked through your plans and specifications, and I think your roads are abysmal. They will never work, and they will be a catastrophe for anyone who attempts to use them. I do not want anything to do with your ill-conceived City on a Hill."
With a disgusted and cynical look, he turned and began to make his way back down the path towards The Valley.
The Builder called out after him "Please Good Sir, are you willing to help me? I do not pretend to know how to create the best roads, but if you are willing to share your Wisdom I am willing to listen. Would you please take a few moments to explain to me how the roads are inadequate, and what changes we might be able to make to bring them to within your standards?"
The elder paused, and then reluctantly agreed that he could take a few minutes to point out the inadequacies in more detail.
The Builder knew he would need the wisdom of the elders, with the exuberance of the youth, and the strength of the young adults in order to succeed, no matter how difficult it was to get everyone working together. It would take the collaboration of all generations to co-create something truly wonderful.
One of the congregation members working on the layout of the church was a local grocer. "Where are you planning to set up the local shops?" he asked.
"That is a wonderful question," the Builder replied. "Let us review the plans and specifications together and see, perhaps you could help improve them." They explored the design for a large cobblestone Main Street coming off Town Square, with local shops to provision the families of the Great City. The grocer and the Builder began drawing plans for the layout of the store, the discussing the supply chains that would provision it.
The next day the Builder climbed the pathway up to the sacred mountain as he did every day, studying and praying over the plans and progress, and asking God to reveal and direct their next steps. As he was praying, a childhood friend from The Valley who had grown up alongside the Builder approached him and startled him out of his prayers. "I have been praying on the mountain this morning," the friend said abruptly. "I hoped I would find you here. I am deeply troubled by your dangerous plan to build this City." He also cared deeply about the town, but felt strongly that any plan for Hope needed to involve working to transform The Valley below from within. "Your creative ideas are dangerous. You are up here trying to build a City in the clouds, while we are down in the trenches of The Valley fighting the true battle. God did not tell me to build a City on a Hill, God told me we need to build boundaries and protections against the threats at hand."
The Builder put his hand on his friends back. His friend was angry and stiff. "I agree with you brother that we must build boundaries for The Valley below. The threats at hand are indeed Great. I am a Builder and I know well how to build boundaries. Perhaps God has laid a diversity of plans on the hearts of those uniquely called to carry them out. Perhaps what God has shown you is right and good and needs to happen, and what God has shown me is right and good too. I bear witness with the Wisdom of your plan and would be glad to help you. Would you be willing to help me as well? Perhaps we could share teams and logistics as we work to fortify the Old and build the New together."
The friend fell silent and thought. He had not considered that both could happen simultaneously.
As they were talking, the little girl and some of her friends ran up out of breath after climbing up the mountain. She was amazed to see all the progress. "Wow! Your pile of rubble is really coming to life! What are you doing now?" she asked.
"We are co-creating a Great City on a Hill, that will serve as a light, a fortress, and an inspiration for The Valley for generations to come. Would you like to see the plans for the school and playground?"
The little girl was intrigued, and began imagining and dreaming with the Builder about what kind of school and playground they might be able to co-create. As she talked and dreamed, the Builder wrote her ideas down in the plans and specifications, and modified the designs to reflect her creativity and insight. "That will be a great improvement to the design," the Builder told her. "I can't believe I left out the swings. Thank you very much for helping me design and build this City on a Hill."
After the little girl and her friends scampered away, the Builder turned back to his childhood friend, who was glaring at him with a hard look on his face. "I just don't think we can trust you. Remember in our youth when you had the bright of idea of building a cart to help us carry our supplies? I still remember the lashing my father gave me after the wheels fell right off and all our hard earned supplies tumbled down into the river. What makes you think that you can build an entire City on a Hill? I wouldn't be surprised if the whole damn thing tumbled down the mountain after the first little storm. Just think of how disappointed everyone will be in you then. When that happens, I'll tell them I warned them, and say "I was right about him all along."
The Builder grew thoughtful. "You are absolutely right. I am completely unqualified. I have never built a City on a Hill. No one has. I can only do my best, and hope that the other qualified members of the community will help. I never said I could build a City on my own. Fortunately, the well expert has fixed the well, the road expert has fixed the roads, the grocer has fixed the shops, and the little girl has fixed the playground. Because of all their help, I am confident that the City is growing sound and strong."
Day after day, week after week, more and more people streamed up to the top of the sacred mountain, studied the plans and specifications, and began to dream and design and build together around the parts of The City they each cared about and valued the most.
While there were plentiful trials, tribulations, and conflicts along the Way, the City offered the Citizens of The Valley an inspiration and Hope that had been missing for generations.
In partnership with God and One Another, they were co-creating a truly Magnificent City, that was rising up day by day before their eyes.
The End. And The Beginning.
A week from now, a year from now, and 5 years from now, things will look different. They will be far better. This is a living, breathing, evolving co-creative endeavor, that will continue to grow and change as we humbly learn and allow God and Wisdom to lead.
Not only will Lionsberg transform daily, but each of us will transform daily as a result of our effort to discern, design and build what God has in mind.
We need your help. Roll up your sleeves, Join The Platform, and get to work :)
Pardon our dust, Lionsberg is a Work In Progress.