“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
In his own day, Isaiah dreamt of a time where
11:6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
11:7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
11:8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
11:9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
11:10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
John the Baptist, in the days leading up to Jesus’ public vocation, is forewarning the people, there is one coming who will bring the goodness and justice of God.
The apostle Paul, in his letters, was repeatedly imagining and exhorting those early communities of the church to live in peace and harmony. Paul saw what community in the spirit of Christ could be amidst cities filled with corruption and cruelty. He gave his life to his dreams, of creating communities directed by the ways of love, of faith, and hope.
Everything begins with dreams. Everything starts with an idea, with someone imagining something long before it appears.
Staunch and rigid systems and institutions do not care much for prophets, poets, or dreamers. That is why Jerusalem, once the city of God, but had become the city of the Temple elite, Herod’s Court, and Rome’s seat of government, killed the prophets, silenced the poets, shattered the dreams of those who saw life where justice and compassion and love were the law of the land. They saw a society where the poor were cared for, not because they were helpless or lazy, but because everyone accepted the fact that the system inevitably created the disadvantaged.
Advent is the dream of a better world. It is the dream of a peaceful city with just and wise government. Advent sees the kingdom of God long before it is seen by the rest of the world.
In his ode to Vincent Van Gogh, Don Maclean wrote the moving lyrics that could be said about all dreamers, all prophets, poets… it certainly could be said about Jesus:
Vincent” by Don Maclean
Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now
For they could not love you
But still your love was true…”
Just the other day, Annie and I were walking through Hobby Lobby when she stopped and said “I like that” pointing to a sweat shirt that read, “Don’t quit your day dream.” Don’t quit dreaming about a world filled with beauty and wonder. Don’t quit dreaming about a city vibrant and safe. Don’t quit dreaming about people loving their neighbors. Don’t quit dreaming about a better world for your children and your grandchildren. Don’t stop seeing things that are not yet there…but you can see them in your soul. Don’t stop dreaming about sustainable agriculture, clean water, efficient government, creativity, compassionate community. Don’t stop dreaming because we know…so many things..so much of what is ….was once a wild dream.
When I first arrived here 19 years ago, Barb Cassis was one of those who took me under her care. She and Jim Holtson and the room full of elders at the wed. bible study, informed me of their long history with st. andrew and with kokomo. I remember Barb Cassis walking me over to Foster Park to show me the walk of excellence that wound around the perimeter of the park. I remember her telling me that it was planned to run throughout the whole city…. But she wondered if it would ever happen. Her words came back to me when Annie and I stumbled upon the path in 2009 or 10 that was once an abandoned railroad track. A beautiful paved path running through the woods leading us behind the UCT ballpark and onto Foster Park. Over the past decade I have seen that long awaited dream that Barb Cassis spoke of in 2001 fulfilled before our eyes and under our very feet.
This is a city of dreams, of firsts, of patience and patents and inspiration and innovation. In 2005 I listened to Jeff Newton dream of transforming a dying congregation and decaying church building into a center that changed lives. In 2008 I remember driving by the old abandoned train depot on Union with annie as she imagined out loud what she would do if she had the money to renovate and utilize those abandoned structures.
Ten years ago I sat at Dan Hibner’s bedside when he lay there paralyzed from his neck to his ankles, telling me, he would walk again and he would travel the world.
I know that life is filled with broken and unfulfilled dreams. But I think that even if we carry a dream in our thought we are part of its fulfillment even if we are not the one to see it fulfilled. Even if our heart and bank account is broken and we only experience failure… we are the world’s dream makers. When the church intercedes on behalf of the world, the nation, the city, the church, the community, calling forth peace, and justice, and love… we are the dream makers.
Advent is the power of dreams, and patience, and perseverance, and vision, and longing. Advent is the power of faith and belief and trust. Advent is the womb in which the world is dreamed to break forth in time and love and sacrifice and willingness. Advent is the beginning of things that follows the end of things.
Advent is the time to believe in the dreams of the prophets, the dreams of Mary, the dreams of Jesus, the dreams of the dreamers, the poets, the storytellers… the dream of God who imagined a world of beauty, community, and love.