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Dreaming through Advent

Advent is a time of the year when we hear once again the call of God.

This call began with the prophets of the Old Testament and continued through the songs of angels finally leading us to the stable beside the Inn in Bethlehem.

The call of course seems so simple and yet we know its application is complex. For we know if we are to accept this call, we are asked to love not only the sweet babe—the fair Christ child lying in the manger—but also the man who will disrupt the powerbroker and status quo so much that he will be crucified.

While our Christmas cards show the baby cradled so sweetly in the wooden manger under the star, we know it will not be long before it is the harsh wood of the cross that will hold our Lord.

Advent is both a dream and a nightmare wrapped up in this one who the world knew as Jesus of Nazareth but who we call Jesus Christ the incarnate—who would conquer death and change the course of human history.

Thus in the Advent season we are asked to recognize that the arrival of this child is the fulfillment of the prophets' words regarding the coming of the Messiah.

We see in the coming of the Christ child the fulfillment of the dream imagined for centuries by the Hebrew nation. And even today that child’s coming allows us to dream of God's Kingdom coming on earth even as it is in heaven. And just like saints across generations, we continue to dream of that promised day even as we proclaim “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Part of my study in preparation for this Advent Season is the study of the Lectionary text using resources from a group called A Sanctified Art. This is a team of Presbyterian pastors, writers, and artisans who combine their skills to help interpret the text in new and bold ways. We will use a variety of their resources in our worship liturgy this season.

Their study of the lectionary texts for the season included an extensive look at the 126th Psalm.

The opening line of the Psalm says: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”

What does it look like to live as those who dream? This will be our focus in the coming weeks.

Certainly it would be simpler to take a year off – especially from dreaming because in 2020 it seems we struggle just to make it from day to day. Alas, so many things, including dreams, have been put on hold in this year of Global Pandemic.

I imagine that is how the Hebrew Nation felt. They too had put so much on hold as they were occupied not by a virus but by a foreign invader. It would have been simple to stop dreaming and ignore God’s call. They might even have felt like turning away from God altogether. Yet even in those days there were still those who dreamed and there were those who believed and were willing to step out in faith in spite of the world saying such actions were a waste of time. Yet somehow it was these dreamers who found the fortitude to proclaim with the Angels that this child born to an unwed mother would be the Savior. And later other dreamers would join the chorus in saying this one you crucified is Christ risen and alive.

Faith in dreams is what Advent calls us to proclaim. In our Advent walk, we step into the mystery and awe of God’s dreams and pray they shape our reality.

As my friends at A Sacred Art say so beautifully -

The prophets, the psalmists, John the Baptist, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, the shepherds and the Magi—they were all dreamers. They received, discovered, and responded to God’s dreams for the world.

Advent is for the dreamers in all of us—those who dream of a deeper connection with God and those who dream of a better world. It’s for those who dream of comfort and for those who have given up on their dreams. It’s for those whose dreams have been crushed and for those who show us that dreams take time. Join us this Advent as we dream alongside prophets and angels, Mary and the Magi. Join us as we seek and sow God’s dreams for our world.

I pray each of us will join in the dream that declares the light has come to the world and that nothing—be it pandemic or politics or even death itself is able to extinguish it.

Thanks be to God.


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