What would make our city of Chestermere rejoice? What would make people cheer with gratitude and celebrate life? Well we know what would make your city mourn. Crime, broken relationships, unrest, poverty, and illness make a city ache with sorrow. When a business goes bankrupt, a family is destroyed by alcoholism, or vehicles are stolen we hurt together. We may sink into cynicism and we wonder if relief will ever be found.
What could make a city that aches with sorrow find life again? There is a Hebrew proverb that says, “when it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers.” Other versions of the proverb say, “when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.” When people who bring life, hope, peace, and goodness to a city actually succeed in their aim, the community celebrates. When a neighbour helps their neighbour, when a business succeeds, when non-profits get off the ground, when governments lead well, and when families are supported by good people through times of crisis, we have reason to cheer.
The Hebrew word for ‘good people’ or ‘righteous’ people is ‘tsaddiqim.’ It’s the word used for people who bring peace, who rescue others, who champion equity and restore what was lost. They comfort the hurting, promote unity, inspire hope, and advocate for health. These people aim for the universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight of their city and the people in it. When these people succeed, the city rejoices.
Who are Chestermere’s ‘tsaddiqim?’ Where have you seen them at work, sharing their skills and passions? How have good people made our city celebrate? Those who have aimed to solve community problems, establish healthy businesses and organizations that bring life to our city, and who have worked to better our governance, education, faith and health have all made our city cheer. Whether they know it or not, most good things that happen in our city have happened because good people have succeeded in doing good. Those people are a gift to us all.
Here is the interesting thing. When prospering people only prosper for themselves, the city does not rejoice. When we keep what is good to ourselves, our neighbours do not have a reason to celebrate or be hopeful. But when the good people of a city work together for the flourishing of their city, peace and joy are soon to follow.
There is a great story from a city in Illinois that struggled during a time of racial tension. The Mayor, Don De Graff, aimed to create CommUNITY dinners. These dinners were made to help people from different background and ethnicities eat together. Soon churches, schools and businesses worked together to promote these meals throughout the city and they resulted in tremendous new connections between people who would not have normally met. The result: the city rejoiced. When good people succeed in doing good, we have reason to celebrate.
No matter what you do, your work can make your city cheer. If you build homes, you have a chance to do good for families and use your influence to build a life for others that makes your city rejoice. If you walk through your neighbourhood, you have a chance to see and respond to your place in beautiful and meaningful ways. Wherever you are, the decisions you make have a chance to make your city rejoice. Where are the good people in your community, and how are you being invited to join them?