Friday, December 16, 2016
Dreaming of Better Days
Dreaming of Better Days Every Christmas and New Year’s Day
“Here comes that dreamer!”
“Your old men will dream dreams.”
“We had hoped He was the One to…”
“Visions of…danced in their heads…”
“Have yourself a merry little…”
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”
“And so this is Christmas; and what have you done? Another year older and a new one just begun…”
Maybe you’ve noticed, there are lots of songs around this time of the year that express longings and dreams for better days.
But just like Joseph with his jealous brothers and Pharaoh’s hot wife or anyone who dares to dream dreams of better days whether young or old, we like to kill dreamers with bottom lines and balance sheets and reality checks and dwarfed or diminished hopes that too often dash those dreams.
I had a dream about those dreams not long after Advent 2016 commenced.
Actually, it started with a nightmare.
It was about two of my first and worst funerals.
The first was when I substituted for another clergyman less than an hour before the service began. While people grieve in different ways, I noticed this particular family was especially cranky. Not long after the service, I went to cash the honorarium. A stop had been placed on the check. I called the funeral director and said, “Walter, a stop was placed on the check. Was I that bad?” “No, Bob,” he said, “my mistake. They stopped my check too. They wanted a rabbi.”
The second was another last minute substitution. I didn’t know the deceased; but I knew the children and said, “You know, it’s like puppies. The goodness of a momma is often reflected in the goodness of the puppies.” Her husband said just loud enough for everyone to hear and for me to turn purple, “My wife wasn’t a dog.”
Fortunately, that was only the first scene in the dream.
The second was about Jeff who will always be older than me.
The dream recounted countless conversations that we have had about better days when clergy got along with each other and it was fun to go to presbytery meetings where there weren’t as many litmus tests of fidelity as we have today and when clergy and elders and deacons and trustees and members knew how to disagree agreeably. Yes, we could debate vigorously; but we never even entertained breaking fellowship.
When Jeff and I talk about that to younger pastors and denominationalists, they can’t relate because it’s not been a part of their experience for at least 30 years; and I saw their collective face of disbelief about such better days in my dream.
That part of the dream ended with Jeff looking very sad as he said, “How are we ever going to convince the world that Jesus is so good and saving if people who say they belong to Him keep hating each other and separating themselves from each other?”
The third scene was frightening.
A very angry man – someone like the gloaters and whiners and hardliners and cupcakes being in each other’s faces since November 8 – yelled, “You are wrong about so many things! You are wrong about me needing Jesus and you are wrong to have ‘What the World Needs is Jesus’ on your bank checks! We will never get along. And I won’t rest until you’re…”
It sounded like he really wanted to do a Herod on me.
I wasn’t surprised; because we’ve become so polarized in church as well as society. It’s not just Democrats and Republicans. It’s everybody. Nothing seems to bridge the gap and no one seems to be able to bring us together anymore.
But then came the fourth and final scene of my dream.
I saw the manger; and I saw animals and rich and poor and different colors and classes and cultures looking really warm and cozy and safe and happy and friendly and…saved.
I heard angels: “For to you is born a Savior! He is Christ the Lord. He brings peace on earth and good will among everybody!”
I felt hopeful again.
I felt like walking down every road of life and saying, “Yes, He is the one who can fulfill our greatest dream for it to be on earth as it is in heaven. All we have to do is stop running away from each other and start walking together with Him. Then we will be warmed…strangely… wonderfully…and saved.
Waking up, I decided never to go back to sleep.
That’s not an especially new dream for me or you or anybody who longs for better days; and everyone seems to get dreamy about it around this time of the year.
It’s a dream inspired by every worship service where Jesus is Lord by the book; and just like the Father enfleshed in the Son, it/He can happen just like that manger scene if we don’t shut the door of our hearts and let Him in.
That’s the miracle of Christmas then, now, and forever; and the only way to have happy new years.
Blessings and Love!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Speak up! Stand up! Act up for Jesus!