Streets Without Names

Streets Without Names

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? John 1: 46

The band, U2, had a hit song titled, “Where the Streets Have No Name.”  The song’s lyrics were inspired by conditions in Belfast, Northern Ireland. People in Belfast were deeply divided by religion and income. U2’s lead singer, Bono, noticed how these divisions found expression in the names of the streets people lived on.

The sadness of the conditions in Belfast stood in contrast to the life Bono witnessed during a humanitarian trip to Ethiopia. Ethiopia was a place of poverty where they had no streets of distinction. There was an inherent joy to life, absent in Belfast, based on the anonymity of where a person lived.

I first heard the song while living in Brooklyn, NY. It struck a chord with me because in Brooklyn, a person was defined racially, socially, and economically by the street they lived on. At the same time, people from the different streets all had to come to the 4th Avenue subway station to get to work. Every morning, I would witness a sea of diversity flowing by the church. It was beautiful to imagine all these radically different people living together in peace. The song remains for me one of the most powerful images of heaven.

In today’s reading, Nathaniel sarcastically remarks about the value of Jesus, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” It’s a town, but it has the same implication of modern day streets. The statement even has an enduring quality. In every location I have ever lived, people have been judged based on town, location within a town, or by the names of streets. We have all asked Nathaniel’s question at some point in our lives.

Yesterday, I invited readers to come and see where Jesus dwells. Today’s reading adds definition to this invitation. When we place our distinctions, like street names, to the side we are going to the place where Jesus dwells. In this place, the joy of heaven is experienced because we end up treating different people for what they are, children of God.

Click to read: John 1: 43-51

Reflection Questions:

  • How do the names of streets define people where you live?
  • What would it take to view these people as children of God?
  • When have you been pleasantly surprised by a person you looked down upon?
  • Where does Jesus dwell most profoundly with you?

Listen to this week’s PODCAST: The Ghost’s of Christmas

Photo Courtesy of and Tim Wright
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