My five-year-old godson dreams of things beyond any waking experiences: dragons and castles, flying trains and talking trucks, foreign lands and mighty wizards. When he wakes up, he’s always on the lookout, certain that the dragon or talking truck will show up any time. My dreams—and my confidence in dreams—are pitiful by comparison.
I recently asked several friends if they’ve ever used the phrase, “it’s a dream come true,” as an adult. None could recollect a time. Like me, they could name many things they’ve hoped for, even wondrous and unexpected changes in the world that have come to pass; yet nothing reached beyond what could be imagined, planned for, and accomplished by human power.
I write this reflection during a troubled season. It’s been a hard year, filled with racial unrest and injustice, civil war, abuses of power, and natural disasters. Whenever I tune in to the news, I find it difficult to stretch my imagination beyond simply hoping for less violence, less destruction, and some relief for those already caught up in tragic situations.
In contrast, both the psalmist and the prophet Isaiah testify to a different reality. Nations are restored. Cities are repaired. Sadness turns to joy. The oppressed are lifted up, justice reigns, and all people are free. These are not Band-AidTM solutions. This is a God-sized vision, a faith proclamation that God will make all things right, will redeem and restore all of creation.
Can you imagine what might happen if we learned to dream again? These sorts of dreams can seem so improbable as to be foolish. They are beyond anything we can accomplish solely through human effort. Yet we know in our bones that such dignity, freedom, justice, and joy is meant to be. God’s promise is nothing short of a dream come true.
God, grant me the ability to dream your salvation-sized, God-sized dreams that lead me into joy and praise. Amen.
In Isaiah 61, the Anointed One declares a message of liberation. Justice, righteousness, and praise will blossom as new shoots of growth in the garden of the Lord. Psalm 126 remembers a time in the past when God’s mercy broke forth in an unparalleled manner. The character of the community and of the individual members will be transformed. The First Thessalonians text voices a yearning for the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” yet the promise of the Second Advent has kindled great hope and gladness in the heart of the Christian community. The reading from the Gospel of John also raises the issue of the mood of expectancy that characterizes the period of time between promise and fulfillment.
• Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. If “the spirit of the Lord GOD is upon” you, what does that mean for the way you live day by day?
• Read Psalm 126. Have you experienced joy in a time of brokenness? How do you understand the seeming contradictions?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. Which of the disciplines Paul speaks of in verses 16-22 do you faithfully practice? Which might you cultivate further?
• Read John 1:6-8, 19-28. John not only knows his role; he knows who he is not: the Messiah. In this time of Advent waiting, consider who you are not. How does that consideration simplify your life? What may you release?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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