When my stylist at Supercuts finds out that I have only lived in Brooklyn for five months, she offers to explain New York to me. She looks me in the eye and says, “If you love New York, she will love you back. If you don’t love New York, then you need to leave right now.”
I love New York and, most days, she loves me back. I wake up in the morning and thank God that I am here. The river, the skyline, and the people rushing around make me grateful. I am thankful for the amazing art, theater, and food. Our city is vibrant, diverse, and resilient.
But I have also been here long enough to know that New York is complicated. Some things are more difficult here. Driving unpainted, narrow streets filled with bicycles, scooters, adventurous pedestrians, and aggressive taxi drivers is frightening. Parking—alternate side unless it’s a street cleaning weekday with an R in it 8 am to 6 pm—is confusing. Paying a reasonable amount for housing is impossible. Raising a family is tough. Helping children get the best education is complicated. Lugging groceries home is problematic. Finding a quiet place or a restroom or a way to retire is tricky. Being kind is challenging. Making friends is difficult. Feeling like you matter is hard.
New York makes it clear that we need the church. We need others to help us recognize God’s presence. When the city treats us poorly, when we feel confused, alone, or sad, we need Plymouth.
We need Plymouth because we need a place where people know who we are, treat us with kindness, and let us be kind. We need a place where people listen to us, talk about the things that matter most, and trust us. We need a place to spend time with children and senior adults, be around those with a deep sense of spirituality, and serve those who need our help. We need a place to pray, sing, give, and listen for the Spirit. We need Plymouth.
Dorothy Parker said, “London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.”
That is a good description of the church Brooklyn needs—always hopeful, believing something good is about to happen, hurrying to meet God.