In Joshua 20 and Deuteronomy we learn of a lesser Old Testament idea: Cities of Refuge. Three cities where someone who has killed someone accidentally can go to avoid retribution.
On the surface this might seem odd: why set up a whole city to respond to this one issue? Were there other things you could escape from in a City of Refuge?
For one who found themselves in the predicament of accidentally killing a neighbor I am sure a City of Refuge was a beautiful symbol of grace and rescue.
On a deeper level, I think these cities served another purpose: the performance of alternative story.
Culture dictated vengeance and more violence. Refuge ended the cycle. These cities said: “you don’t have to live like that.”
May our churches, our community groups, our gatherings, our presence in neighborhoods be “cities of refuge.” Reminders that dictates of culture do not apply here…vengeance, hate, cycles of dysfunction…they can end.