Glasgow Subway and the Kingdom of God
Ever participated in a Sub Crawl? No, it’s not a typo. It is meant to say ‘Sub Crawl’ as opposed to ‘Pub Crawl.’
Some Glasgow residents from various churches recently participated in just this as part of Thy Kingdom Come in May. If you have ever been on the Glasgow subway, you will know that it makes a circular route and this small prayer group decided it was perfect for covering different sections of Glasgow in prayer.
Lal Dhillon was part of this group and shares here his reflections on the night.
“It’s just after 7pm on Wednesday night. The sky above Buchanan Street is a faint blue, tinged purple at the edges, and the air feels cool but heavy. There’s the typical sense of busyness tonight, as people come and go throughout the city centre, but surprisingly it seems quieter than usual. After a few moments, I realise there are no buskers out tonight, or at least none near enough to hear.
We pray together briefly, then take the escalator down to the crowded Subway platform. I’m not normally great with crowds, so I slip my headphones in and turn my music up loud, trying to tune out my anxiety and turn my heart back to Jesus. I pray for a fresh sense of His love and peace in my city. I pray along with the words of the song in my head: ‘wind of God, come breath upon us’ and as I do the ground beneath me shakes and air rushes past me as the next train arrives.
By the time I step through the doors, there is nothing left but standing room. We’re all carrying sheets of prayer points with us, but I can’t reach it in my pocket from where I stand. In fact, as the train leaves the station with the sound of a hurricane, it’s all I can do to hold myself upright. In the absence of anything to read or direct me, I shut my eyes tight and pray again for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my city as I hold tight to the railing above my head, doing my level best not to crash into the people around me.
As I stand there, ears full of music and the roaring of the train, arms and legs straining against the forces around me, I struggle to think of a setting that would be farther away from the prayer room at my home church. There’s no communion table, no mood lighting, no comfortable 1am quiet to contemplate the scriptures. And yet, as I pray, I can feel the presence of God thick about me.
As we pass more stations, the train gradually empties, and I’m grateful to finally find a seat. As I sit and pray, I watch as people with tired eyes return home from long working days, as friends gather for nights out, each stepping on and off of Glasgow’s circulatory system. Each one is striving for something, whether that’s a good night out or an early night in bed. Each one of them carries their own story, each travelling from one point in their lives to their next, and in the layers of these different stories, the city of Glasgow emerges.
So what does it look like for the Kingdom of God to come in Glasgow?
When the Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied ‘Behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you’ (Luke 17:21b). It seems like a strange answer, and I think that’s kind of the point, because when you think about it the Pharisees’ question isn’t a very good one.
They’re watching Jesus go about interpreting the Scriptures and healing the sick, and talking about the Kingdom as if it hasn’t arrived yet.
They’re waiting for God to come and overthrow the Roman oppression, while Jesus is getting ready to overthrow the oppression of death itself.
And so, when they ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God is coming, Jesus turns around and responds, “I’m here!”.
The Kingdom of God was in their midst because Jesus, who gave life to all creation and who still holds it together today, had put on skin and bone and deigned to walk upon His earth which they inhabited. He read and interpreted the words of the Prophets which He had inspired in temples which they had built out of His stones. Jesus walked, talked, ate, slept and breathed the world which was His, and as He did he established His Kingdom among the people, proclaiming freedom for captives, forgiveness for debtors, health for the sick, life for the dead and love for the unloved.
Eventually, the carriage we’re on empties entirely, so that it’s just the five of us left. With no one to disturb, we raise our voices in prayer and worship. As I open my mouth to sing and to pray, the sense of release is palpable. As a group, as a community, as His Church, we join together in worship, singing high the praises of our God and inviting Him to come and dwell in our city.
And as we do, Jesus is in the midst of us, sat alongside us in His subway, ready once again to establish His kingdom amongst us.”
Lal is a member of the Glasgow United prayer team, who seek to support churches in Glasgow to pray for their city and nation in unity. He leads ‘Project Wanderlust’, a missional project seeking to see a greater realisation of the Kingdom of God in gaming culture. He is also a student at the Scottish Baptist College and a graduate of the Forge Pioneer course.