Roosters and Cities and Roosters

When we updated our logo and website, we had to make a decision about our identity and as they say, our branding.

PrintWe started with this rooster. My friend Andrew designed this rooster for me for free. He did excellent work. This was back in winter 2011, back when we didn’t have any idea what lay ahead, when City Pres was a baby idea. He and I went back and forth and we had to settle on something. I’m not the best client. I have particular ideas about what I want but yet I can’t best express them or detail them. So I’m tough to work with. We agreed to go with it, but I never completely gave over to it. I knew we’d need to make a change and refresh it.

Bobby did the website. It was clover site and it was been fine for what we needed it to be at the beginning. It  was far easier and cheaper than anything we could have done ourselves.

But I didn’t feel like it was “us.”

That is a dilemma to me. What is “us”?I believe in images and symbols. I think the Bible, Christianity and the church are filled with them. Those symbols hold a tremendous power in our lives, and we are remiss to strip them out of our churches, as has been standard practice for many years. I want symbols.

Yet so many symbols are so cliché. They seem to either mean nothing at all any more or else they can mean anything to anyone.

I’ve been thinking about City Pres a lot, which is no surprise. What strikes me is our heart for Oklahoma City. We want to be in the city and for the city and serving the city. We talk about that a lot. It comes out in how we think about our CityGroups and our outreach and planting churches in the future and in many things. To me, that is what and why we named our church City instead of many other great choices (Redeemer or Grace for example). “City” captures a heartbeat for us. As such, it would have made more graphic sense to represent a city in our logo so the name of the church is closely tied to the image of the church.

And yet there is something else that informs and impassions that heart for the city. It is the idea that we are sinners walking together with Jesus. It is a heart for the brokenhearted, and an invitation that people can come who do not have their act together or do not have God all figured out or are struggling and angry and discouraged and dejected. That it is in our weakness that we are truly strong, and we are actually called to bring our brokenness to the church, to the table, to each other and to Jesus. As one pastor put it, we must rejoice in the abundance of shared poverty.

logo-02That is why we go out to the city. It’s not because we are so cool or so smart or so together or so moral or so successful in life. It’s because we have seen Christ proven strong in our weakness. We’ve seen and experienced him in death and resurrection. We’re familiar with his light in the darkness, not only in our society but our very souls. He says, “I am with you” and we think that that surely cannot be enough and yet it is. So we’re not surprised by sin, and we don’t shudder at it or shy away from entering into dark places, but we hope for redemption and pray for it and believe in it and stand with Christ as he brings light, healing and hope in himself.

I think the rooster best represents that hope because it’s the symbol, picture and icon of Peter in the midst of his worst night, when he betrayed his best friend and savior. Roosters are naturally known as proud and confident. But the idea is switched when that very nature is subverted in shame and weakness in dark nights of the soul like Peter’s. Yet Jesus loved him still. Not in spite of weakness. In his weakness. That’s why our roosters hold crosses in their talons. They hope in Christ alone. Their confidence must be in Jesus and in nothing else.

So it seems to me that these two symbols (the city and the rooster) capture City Pres. They say we are for the city, but we go out in a known brokenness. It’s almost like it’s the opposite of the Crusader or the Warrior or the Knight, or what seems to be the mascot of so many schools and churches. We’re the Screw Ups. We’re the Sinners. We’re the Grace-Needers. That’s what we offer the city. That’s what we need ourselves. That’s what invites others who need grace into our midst. That’s why we sing Poor Sinner Dejected with Fear and Laden with Guilt and Filled with Fears and Be Still My Soul and All Must Be Well and Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy, Sick and Sore.

You haven’t seen many cityscapes. There are a few that crop up now and then. We tried to put pictures of the city as our place especially on our website. There is a picture of the city on the front of our bulletin. Instead of cityscapes, I think you’ll see Oklahoma-themed art. This is a way for us to connect with our city and our state without putting buildings on our tshirts and handouts.

We’re calling people to a new day in the city. We’re crowing about grace – not about ourselves. We’re proud in Jesus, not ruling the roost of our own barnyards but his. We’re City Roosters.

Headshot 2 Nicole Hager