We are reflecting on dreams this Advent season in worship.
Why? Because we need a break from pandemics, politics, and all the posturing thereunto. Even "dreams" seem tame after this remarkable 2020 year. But also because the traditional readings for Advent this time around include Psalm 126:
"When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream."
I love that. Ever felt the rush of imagination and its laughter when you learn you have more time? Ever pass through a near-miss and feel 10 years younger, crystal-clear about what really matters? Ever laid awake at night and imagined with fierce-new-energy just what good thing could come to pass with some holy combination of Effort and Grace? Psalm 126 knows the feeling.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the peoples, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
These are not the middle-of-the-night dreams full of bizarre combinations and inverted plots: like dreaming you keep showing up tardy for a class you've not attended in decades, and your grandparents are there, and you are only wearing sweatpants, and you have a pet cheetah in tow. Weird, those dreams. It is as though, freed from the chore of seeing us through daily life, at night our brains and hearts have a rummage sale and, well ... everything must go. This gets mixed with that, plus a little of those and a lot of these ... and before you know it, you've dreamed one heck of a dream.
Not those dreams. For those, you might see your therapist.
Psalm 126, I'm quite sure, is about wide-awake dreams. Daylight dreams. Son-bathed dreams. The dreams you dream in the sunlight as you look down the road still before you and you cannot help but imagine what might yet be. Holy dreams. God-dreams. Dreams in which the Spirit of God teaches us to look beyond the limits of our dimly-lit sight and imagine what this resurrecting, apocalyptic, born-in-a-manger God might still yet do. This is the stuff of Resurrection: fresh energy for life in the here-and-now after the near-miss of a life without God. That God made us. That God saves us. That God speaks through our daytime dreams.
So I say Advent is for dreamers. God-dreamers. Gospel-dreamers. Before we get to gather sweetly again around the familiar crèche, the season of Advent says: Stop! Wait. Sweetness is coming, yes. But first, let me disturb your sleepy religious imagination with the wild possibility that the dead-now-alive, child-now-Lord will in fact advent (appear) again. "Come, Lord Jesus," the church says every Advent. And if that coming be so, then all things are possible and nothing God-birth is merely a dream.
Advent: Be like those who dream! Perhaps with all the masking and the distancing and the quarantining these months, we need a little shock in the spirit right about now. Holy dreams. Advent dreams. Dreams (and their Biblical warrants) to remind us — and this is the good news, Saints — that there is still more to life than what we have seen in the embers of this flamed-out 2020.
Come dream a little dream with me these December Sundays.