These aren’t day dreams. These are life dreams.
These are kingdom dreams, God-sized dreams.
Sleeping dreams are weird – like a trip with Alice down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass. They are the result of a swirling mix of your subconscious mind, your anxieties, and whatever you had for dinner. Like I said, WEIRD. They may be scary, or fun, sad, heartwarming or erotic. More often than not, they seem completely detached from reality.
And yet how often do we let them control our reality? How often do we shy away from a challenge because of some nightmare of the danger or risks involved? How often do we pursue a path of unhealthy self-gratification or self-glorification that originated in a dream state? We consume stories in prose and poetry, songs, TV and movies – some of which create a very literal interpretation of these dreamlike experiences – I’m thinking of The Matrix series and Inception. You may know of others that like an MC Escher print fold dimensions inside each other as though each of us were a series of interlocking Mobius strips.
The 2013 holiday release of the new Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” – a remake of the 1947 film starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo – is based on the James Grover Thurber (1894-1961) story from The New Yorker magazine. Mitty is a character who lives in his imagination, with his real life bearing no resemblance to his dreams. Eventually he awakes to this situation, and makes a conscious decision to go and do something else, to Wake up and dream.
Thurber is reported to have said, “Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” So many of our dreams have us looking in anger or fear.
God’s dreams for us begin with our waking to what is real, right here and now, in our very midst. God with us, Emmanuel. God here in the sorrow and struggle, the laughter and love. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God’s thoughts toward God’s people are of blessing, and a future with hope. (Jer 29:11) God’s dream is to restore that which has been lost, or that which we only glimpse “as through a veil dimly.” (1Cor 13:12)
The first and last scenes of the Bible are of a beautiful garden in which human beings are in harmony with one another, they undertake meaningful creative work caring for the world as a central feature of their blessed state, and they are in communion with God who dwells and walks among them. Their home is God’s home. This is the vision, the dream which God is continually dreaming for us and working with us to unfold in and through us.
“And they called him Emmanuel, God with us.”
Most often the Bible uses the word wake with reference to calling people to pay attention to what is happening around them, to shake off the stupor of their sinful and slothful ways. Shake off the haze of the culture which invites you to deny the reality of God and the spiritual world, and even your own spirit. Shake off the sleep that lulls you into believing either that you are the only thing that matters, or that you do not matter at all.
The sojourners from the east came, wise and wealthy – and thereby powerful – yet they humbled themselves before the child Jesus. Shepherds, the least and lowest, the most despised among Jewish society, found themselves with personal engraved invitations to the party of the ages. The “reality” in both situations would have told them to stay away – one because they were too good, and the other because they were not good enough. Yet through dreams and visions they all came to realize that the invitation was for them, and for everyone – “Peace on earth, good will to all.”
What will your dreams reveal, when you begin to let yourself dream them? What is God longing to show you? What is being prepared for you to be and do in the world so that others might experience Emmanuel? Whether you’re a shepherd, a wiseman, an innkeeper, a carpenter, or a young and innocent woman, you have a role to play in the unfolding drama of God’s dream. Will you open to it?
These reflections were written in preparation for a sermon on 12/29/2013, first Sunday after Christmas. The sermon scriptures were:
Isaiah 52:7-10 ~ Psalm 98 ~ Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12) ~ John 1:1-14