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Hearing, Living, and Responding to Dreams

"…An angel of the Lord appeared… in a dream and said…" Matthew 2:13


The Season of Advent, the preparations towards Christmas, and the transition towards the New Year, brings back several memories, and helps us to connect with images and symbols, seasonal colours like purple, red, green, and of course white, decorations, music, goodies, new clothes, greetings and not to forget Carols at homes. It is exciting and sometimes overwhelming, as I look at the preparations here at Andrew's, especially the several rounds of discussion to fix the Carol Rounds schedule. There is much we want to do and so much we wish to celebrate, which I sometimes wonder if it is a social and cultural expression of the need for joy, freedom, and celebration, which we seem to hold back throughout the year. It is hard to be quiet and lonely during Christmas, because we tend to be busy during the day and the night!

Let's imagine for a moment, that we have a dream during this season, a dream where the angel of the Lord appears to us. Dreams are beautiful, but equally challenging. In our culture, a lot of customs and superstition surround the interpretation of dreams; we think of their meaning and consequences, and we tend to conclude that it is psychological or social. But the dreams around the birth of our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew are more than simple psychological enterprises or social communication. Dreams in Matthew mostly found in the first two chapters (1:19-23; 2:1-12; 2:13-15 and 2:19-23), are critical for the fulfillment of God's purpose in the coming of the Saviour to the world. They also indicate a predominantly Jewish audience that the author is addressing. In the Old Testament, the context and interpretation of dreams is very diverse. In Genesis 28:10-17, the famous dream that Jacob had, the angels play a symbolic role, there is a visual description. In Joel, the tone is prophetic, "Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28). It leads us to believe in the intervention of God and the role of God's vision to be shared with the generations.

In Matthew, dreams are the way God speaks, God intervenes, and God rejoices in the liberation and transformation of human goals with the Divine. Dreams are the language of God, understood by Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi. All of us can have dreams and it can be interpreted and understood by all. Most of the time, dreams are about ourselves. Can our dreams be in line with the will of God? Can God's dreams be for the 'other,' - the poor, the needy, and the marginalized? The Wise Men were willing to take a new direction, willing to leave behind the attractive offers of Herod. Dreams gave them the courage to deny the offers of the powers and recognize the Messiah. Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were more than mere symbols. It was their worship because they were 'overwhelmed with joy.' They met Christ.

The famous and one of the most remarkable modern dreams of our time is from 'I Have a Dream' speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, by Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) and some words are worth noting:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!"

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; 'and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.'"

Let us realize the dreams of the 'other.' I am so happy that our celebrations include gestures to realize the dreams of the HIV infected / affected children, destitute children, children from St. Andrew's School, and our brothers and sisters in Tubagere. I thank God for the leadership of the Pastorate Committee and all these Ministries, and pray that we will move ahead in realizing our dreams.

Let us meet Christ in dreams, not only for ourselves, but for others too.

Wishing you all a meaningful Advent Season and journey into the New Year filled with promises and hope.

Your Presbyter
Rev. Dr. Dexter S. Maben

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