Day 4: SHUT. UP.
Matthew 24:31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Two women in my church started a monthly prayer gathering. One morning each month, we gather, drink coffee, catch up, sit down, light a candle and pray together.
That’s it. No frills, no fuss. No production. Just people praying together.
I had no idea until I started joining these women that this kind of gathered quiet prayer time was the thing that would touch some of the deepest longings of my heart.
Most of a pastor’s job description requires volume: preaching, teaching, praying for someone in need. Today, I wrote emails, drafted a report, talked to the church’s new next-door neighbor about property concerns, sent invitations, talked about our prayer plans over lunch, and coordinated a conference call. My voice gets used all. The. Time.
Sometimes, I forget how much I also need to shut the heck up and listen. Not just listening to other people – I am decent at that, usually. But to shut up and listen for God. To be silent. To give my own voice a rest and pay attention to the other Voice for a while, to let it shape my heart and my words.
I saw the movie Moana today, the Disney-est of Disney movies. She’s a young girl destined to be chief of her people, and even though her father demands that she stay on their island and keep her people safely there, an ecological crisis, her wandering spirit, and the voice of the ocean lodged deep in her being call her away, beyond the barrier reef, into deeper waters, danger and destiny.
I’ll take issue a bit with the guiding inner voice concept (I’m finishing Drew Hart’s book on racism in the church, and his advice that those of us at the top of the racialized hierarchy really have to learn to go AGAINST our intuition more often than not), but the larger concept is not all that bad.
Being patient, being silent, opening our ears to a voice other than our own, seems like a really good idea these days.
I am grateful, today, for my congregation that calls me into prayer. And I am grateful for God’s voice that is always there, the drumbeat beneath my consciousness, the constant rhythm carrying all of us. If only I can convince myself to shut up more often.