We need to pray more. Everyone is shouting something from the rooftop and volume will not remedy the situation. If we’re going to meet the next 50-75 people we need to multiply our congregation at Circle of Hope Broad and Washington, we’re going to need to make ourselves available for a lot more whispers in our ear from Jesus. Because in the rooftop noisescape of Philadelphia their is a desperate need for something new. The next generation that we have designed Circle of Hope to include is closing its ears to rooftop communications of all kinds. They have been marketed to by so many people, for so long, in so many ways that they are experts at tuning out. If we’re going to get them to hear what we have to say we’ll need to hear from Jesus first.
Many of us are just as expert at tuning out at as the rest, and our sensibilities prejudice our actions. We’ll tune ourselves out before we even say a thing. If we can convince ourselves that our words are not just our own but they are the words of Jesus to those around us, we’ll make it a lot further toward actually communicating some piece of our hope. What is Jesus saying to me that he needs others to hear? Who needs to hear what I have heard? Am I turning down the volume on myself or is it Jesus I’m tuning out? It may be Jesus. To get a handle on Jesus’ words to us we’ll need to get good at listening.
Prayer is a lot of listening you know? Somehow it got the rep that it was all about asking God for stuff, but it’s much more than that. Prayer is communion with God. When I spend time with God in the morning I can tell the difference later in the day. I don’t go up on the roof very often, but how I am myself feels more purposeful, more directed. I have never heard an audible whisper myself, but ideas come easier, intentional acts of love seem more natural-it’s like I’m aligned as I should be. Time spent soaking in God’s presence becomes a keel that keeps me straight in God’s waters.
But being attuned to God’s whisper is not just a solitary practice. I can feel God’s presence in community- in my cell meeting on Thursday nights and in our big meetings on Sunday nights too. Jesus has communicated pretty clearly to me that he is present in our community, and in our embrace many will come to a real encounter with him. The whisper we need is not always a new revelation; it is more often a renewal of the same deep truths. “God loves you. God loves the people you will meet today. God wants to bring us all together in Christ. God is with you.” It’s easy to forget and sometimes hard to believe in our hearts even when we know in our heads that it’s true. Jesus whispers to us everyday to encourage our rooftop declarations.
So let’s pray more, let’s incline our ears and respond to when they are perked. If you hear something, say something, at least to your cell if not from some 21st century version of the rooftop. Censoring yourself may be censoring the very words of Jesus. Can we have that much seriousness about what we have to say and how Jesus is using us in the world?