By Nathan Kline
I love seeing renewal, especially in the city. The renewal of the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati particularly interests me because of its growth and development. The neighborhood was originally established by German immigrants in the early 19th century and is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful Italian-style architecture in the United States. However, during the twentieth century and early twenty-first century, Over-the-Rhine was notorious for crime, often dubbed the most dangerous neighborhood in the United States.
But things started to change. Someone had a vision for that community, and after years of work it has become the center of Cincinnati’s renewal. The architecture is on full display with new restaurants and shops popping up everywhere—Over-the-Rhine is truly the place to be.
A New Vision Changes Everything
In Jeremiah 30, the great prophet received a special vision from God. This vision was a reminder of Judah’s past and a vision for their future. The prophet reminded Judah of their past by telling them that they would be taken captive, just as in their days of slavery in Egypt.
The Judeans were probably in shock hearing the oracle from God, but there was more than just captivity in God’s vision. Judah heard of a great future where they would be reestablished in the land promised to their forefathers. They would have a permanent home, established community, and new leadership. What a tremendous vision of the future!
The Past Is Made New
I am positive that Judah did not want to hear they were going back into captivity, but I am also sure that they loved the vision of their future. The founders of Over-the-Rhine never had a vision for being the most dangerous neighborhood in the country, but I am sure they would be glad to know that their original vision is coming back to life—revitalizing the neighborhood and the entire city of Cincinnati.
For us, we might be stuck in our captivity moments, but there is always a vision for the future—one that promises renewal and a new community better than the one we envisioned for ourselves.
Nathan Kline is the Associate Minister at North Hills Christian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he lives with his wife, Michelle.