San Francisco in the summer: The same, only different
I remember clearly when, as a teenager, we would venture each summer north from Orange County to visit our aunts and uncles in San Leandro. As we got older, we always looked forward to taking off with our cousins for a day in San Francisco; riding the trolley, visiting Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, and looking at all the interesting characters along the sidewalks.
As I remember, it seemed to us that San Francisco was a free-spirit type of city. Today, San Francisco is much the same, but yet it is certainly different. Our daughter and son-in-law, along with two granddaughters, ages 8 and 6, were up from Orange County and so we planned a day in the City. We went to Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, rode the trolley to Chinatown, and headed back by tram to our car. Things were going well, until I heard a woman behind us tell our daughter we might want to shield the eyes of our granddaughters from what was taking place outside in front of the tram. At first, it just looked like a large group of bicyclists riding along, escorted by the police because of the Friday traffic. But after a closer look, we saw there were four men riding along stark naked. I couldn't believe it. A fifth man looked like he wanted to join in at the last moment by taking his jean shorts and tearing out the crotch and opening up the front to display his wares. What a nightmare!
We discussed the scene on the way home while the girls were watching a DVD in the back of the car, and we all agreed how great the day was, except for the end, and then our daughter made the declaration, "We'll never come back to San Francisco again." And there is when I began to reflect on what we have been studying at our little church in Glen Ellen from the book of Revelation.
As a pastor, I try to not make generalizations about one situation or another, or blast people like this as ignorant. Instead, we looked to God's word, the scriptures, and there it says that these kinds of days are coming; that we should be aware of them; and that we should be prayerful in asking the Creator to make Himself known to these who are so completely caught up in their own needs, that they have no regards towards those around them. The book of 2 Timothy 3:13 says: "But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves."
I realize full well where quoting from God's word in a newspaper article read by a primarily un-churched society places me, but that is also part of where we're going. In our study of the book of Revelation, we again re-affirmed that the One who is coming, riding on a white horse, who is called faithful and true, it is He who will judge all things. It is His opinion that counts. And, it is He who holds the door to either eternity with Him, or eternity without Him in a place that would make San Francisco look like the Garden of Eden. So, to you who like to bicycle around the city in a manner which can easily be labeled as less than moral in the worst of societies, please do so at your own peril. As for the mayor and city council who support this kind of behavior, please know that you also do so at your own peril.
And in terms of our daughter and us? No thank you, we'll pass on San Francisco, even though it's mostly the same, only different.
Rev. Jim Hill is pastor of Glen Ellen Community Church.