My weekly word is about cities as people, and how God loves and personally shepherds them. I use San Francisco as an example of knowing a city as a person, and relating to her present by seeing her whole story. I use San Francisco as an example, but the principles apply to every city.
First, we come into His Heart and Mind, and speak to the personhood of this city:
“San Francisco, city of edges and dreams, we wait for your full shining, when you are no longer used, but asked what of your thoughts and feelings, love, as you stand there worshiping again before your God.”
We see from your coastlines the beauty of your entrance, the aperture of your heart. But for so long trampled lady, you offer now, only your fully exposed breasts; and I don’t blame you. But, what of you thoughts and inner feelings, your passion for the weak, to offer your bounty freely to the hungry, rather than having it taken by the next speculator.
But for now, know that One is wanting to listen, wanting to give and not take, wanting to love you again into the shimmer of your glory. I did not come to steal your surface riches, but to celebrate you as one full woman worshiping freely before her God, enjoying her own waves, curves and cliffs, and the auspicious father’s sky above you. One surfing fool dives into your heart to bring you back your own joy.
I have seen the dark ones beneath the waters trading aspects of you for entertainment, desiring to divide you into pieces, each getting one limb. Despicable what has gone on–even your ghost throw lots for your bra.
Personal: I lived in San Fran for a number of years when i was younger:
I wanted to give you this long ago, but I was only a child then, a son, when I first came to you. I could offer little more than amazement at your splendid body. Now I return as a father to offer you my services, to make you whole. I know you hate men by now, especially ones who pretend to come in aid. But I want nothing from you. You are not a jewel on my belt–you are just a jewel, which should shine before God and men!
I want to know your heart–that would be enough, but also to hear your thoughts. You are a great type of thinker-a modeler, a symbolizer, a synthesizer. What you see when you gaze across this country needs to be voiced, in your unique cadences, it needs to be heard.
America’s north and south still do not understand one another, and are unintegrated at the heart. But you too must come home to yourself and integrate and celebrate all your wondrous aspects. You too must be whole, and then tell us what you see. You, stationed between north and south, and the East and the West, as a satellite, as a lookout. You are a teacher, a creative beautiful teacher. Come out from hiding my dear. I will take your hand, and teach you the pleasure of being again; and then the difference between offering your beauty and having it taken–the difference between prostitution and serving.
There are stages in the lives of cities. Each city has a story with a past, present and a future. As with people, it is a whole story. In order to know how to shepherd a city in its present, you have to know its past, but also have glimpses of its future.
To have a relationship with cities, you need to relate to them as people. That’s how God sees them, which is made clear throughout scriptures. When I relate to San Francisco, I see a combination of many aspects of America, but specifically, I see both the ways of the South and the ways of The North in her midst.
San Francisco has aspects of the southern way and the northern. Unlike some of the other intellectual centers of America, she can carry both ways in her heart and mind, if they were both fully connected. Because of her history and her agricultural past, she understands Texas, Oklahoma, and the sweep of early settlers who came from the South, but she also can relate to and understand the industrial productivity patterns of the North as that connection is also in her history. She is a port of industry. She is in a unique position, especially since she is in a leadership state, to have a keenly unique perception of America. And she can teach it in a creative way. You see this in company’s like Apple and the many other innovators who work out of California. Some specifically based in San Fran.
THE CHURCH”S ROLE IN CITIES:
The Church’s role as reflectors of the true identities of cities: San Francisco as example. Church as prophetic symbol of the identity of a city!
There is a city, and then there is her church who is “in her midst” to be the unique fragrance of Christ to that city. In the case of San Francisco, the church is to be a free innovator and trainer of creative leadership. Here is a city which is a creative symbolizer, a modeler, a glorious visionary, and a worshiper in glory–one who teaches, using both idea and image–the two are integrated in her true identity. And yet, here is also a city which has been intensely heart-abused and for this reason is somewhat in hiding. And yet it is an artistic leader, and teacher.
The church in San Fran needs to bring kingdom freedom and true, authentic, and therefore, indigenous expression into every area of this complexly layered city, partly to be a light to the world, but also partly for the rest of the Body to see God’s aspects of creative leadership–His innovation and dynamism. In short, the church should be modeling the true identity of the city itself, as a symbol to her and heaven of who she is. This is one of the often overlooked roles of the church, as prophetic symbol of the identity of a city or nation.
This is not about relevancy but the church being a kingdom reflector so that a person or city can remember who it is–how God sees it.
So, the church of San Fran should be one-of-kind and modeling true freedom. It is easy to imagine the assignments against her–control, legalism, division. These are the most obvious, and related to the assignments against the city itself. The church is to be the city’s priest, in holding these things off the city, so that it can become the city God intended it to be. It is also to be an expression, image or symbol of what that identity is in Him. If the enemy can keep her from being truly free, out of fear of extremism in her past; and if she then grips and is territorial towards other churches and has a mentality of dis-integration, then she will not model a truly integrated and dynamic Body. The city then has no mirror in which to see itself accurately!
There is a great need for this city to see itself as one, as whole. Constantly, things have tried to divide her, and still there is this division assignment. You can see it in the church as well, where control is often rigid, legalistic or about separating parts of the body. This needs to radically change for the church to be a true expression of what San Fran is and how it needs to perceive itself.
But trust has been broken, and there is a need for healing and integration. To love what He loves means to love this city as He does. He is trying to integrate her and bring her to wholeness, to tell her she is not only beautiful but smart and has a deep and complex heart.
If the church cannot see and know the city and reflect it, how can the city know itself. As priest, we need to pray the reality of her true identity into being, but we must also symbolize it to her, so she can remember it is ok to show more than her breast, in the case of this city. She has other aspects which need to be honored into the light.
With cities as with people, it is also necessary to see the depraved or shadow version of where she has come–her false self. Since, all cities have been in part poorly stewarded because of our fallen nature, and often flat out abused, it is good to see what level of healing is needed. But first, I think one has to see a city as God does. To see it in its future glory is essential, as the exact expression God had in mind as a reflection of those unique aspects of Himself which that city was meant to reflect.
Some people hate cities. Thank God He doesn’t! For whatever reason, God has the city metaphor in His Heart somewhere, and He loves and cares for and partners with us in shepherding them. If you hate your city, take it to God and ask Him for His Heart towards the city or nation you live in! We are commanded to love what He loves, and He clearly loves cities!
To come to relate to them as people is a starting point to getting to know this part of The Father. God is fathering the cities and the nations, though they rebel. He has individual thoughts and feelings towards each and cares for them, and their identities. Part of this identity is the creative aspect of self, and culture itself is then of concern to The Father. The symbolic life of cities is a huge aspect of what it means to love and care for the city.
Word to the church of San Francisco:
I would recommend that the church set up creative leadership training–to develop great innovative Kingdom leaders, and to address and grow the whole person in this training, including the imagination and thought life, as well as the emotional life. This city can model holistic training in a way few can. Starting with relationship and community, mentorship programs could be set up to help grow a person into their highest calling in Him. You are in a city in which God wants to offer this. I think the church also needs to start getting much more creative and unique or indigenous in its expression. I recommend starting parades, dying fountains a whole community dressing as clowns and doing non-aggressive be-ins at local hot spots. Or make it up out of something which is real to you. Start wearing purple, blue, orange, reclaim the rainbow, but in His True Kingdom freedom. You are a unique part of the body in a very creative and innovative global symbol making city–don’t miss out on that–change the world! BE! LIVE! Take off your shackles and your fear of losing control and revive, come to His LIFE!
But also develop your unique thought life! You are a real synthesizer and thinker, and have great ideas for the city and the whole Body, and the nation. Don’t borrow other’s models out of fear, please create and broadcast your own ways of downloading church! We need them in other places which lack this type of creative thinking. Different parts of the Body hold different gifts and reflect unique aspects of God, we need yours!