And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it.
~ John 19:41, RSV
If nothing else, God cares about the cities because they have people in them. That’s what makes them cities.
In 1994 Bruce Winter wrote a book he titled Seek the Welfare of the City, a title taken from Jeremiah 29: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Winter is writing about first century Christians, but the welfare of the city ought to be a real concern to Christians in this twenty-first century, too. Even in cities where it seems as if there is a church on every corner, we have problems: crime, pollution, traffic, unemployment, homelessness; the list goes on and on, and you probably have your own ideas about “what’s wrong with the city.”
Los Angeles is the city and context where I do ministry. I can imagine Jesus here, stopping to pray with and heal a homeless man on Skid Row, or chatting with a prostitute on Santa Monica Boulevard, or sitting down to dinner with a high-powered Hollywood executive. I can imagine Jesus kneeling to pray in our little sanctuary in South Central or in the ostentatious but still holy Cathedral of the Angels.
God cares about the city – not just Los Angeles, but every city – and because God cares, I care. I don’t care only because God cares, but also because this is where my own life unfolds, and because people are fun and fascinating, and because in every person I meet I see reflected some little piece of Jesus, or my own mother or father, sister or brother, son or daughter or grandchild. Sometimes I see a reflection of myself. How could I not care?
I love the sometimes dirty and gritty but always interesting and diverse City of Angels with its Tower-of-Babel- and-Pentecost-all-rolled-together mix of languages and cultures and skin tones and traditions. (I also love my hometown city, Long Beach, twenty miles away from my church, a kind of mini-LA with its own history and culture.) I want to understand what works and what doesn’t work, the complex interaction of people and politics and systems, and I want to understand how we can make it all come together in a way that benefits the entire community – all the people who live and work and pass through this crazy pueblo known as Los Angeles.
 Jeremiah 29:7, RSV.