Does God Speak To Us In Dreams? | A Reflection from Dr. Mary Dumm
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21
Four candles are lit. We have survived the longest night of the year winter solstice has passed. The days are going to get, maybe imperceivably, longer with a little bit more sunlight. And we are ready and prepared to celebrate the coming of the light into the world, The Nativity of the Lord, The Incarnation of God!…Okay Christmas Is Almost Here…:) And all that other stuff is true as well: On this 4th Sunday of Advent, the church herself turns to tell us the stories of the just before Christmas. Before Christmas I’ll be getting ready that we find in the Gospels Now often of this 4th Sunday of Advent, our mind turns to Mary and the annunciation. She’s on all the Christmas cards right? But not this year. This year the church asks us to think about Joseph, the lesser sung hero of Christmas. It is true it is not that much we know about Joseph. We do know that he is a dreamer. Dreams are weird, aren’t they? When you dream you’re like, “I’m in my house but it’s not my house,” “I’m here but I’m not here,” right, “I know this person but I don’t really know who they are.” You’re kind of all over the place when you dream. That’s the nature of dreams, to be a bit of a mess. Psychiatrist will tell us that in our dreams we’re trying to figure stuff out. There’s some kind of thing that’s bothering us with figuring life out. That’s why it’s so messy. We are also told that we dream all the time, it’s just that we don’t remember all of our dreams. That messiness – that working out- is common in the Bible.
There are many a dreamer in the Bible, and what’s usually happening is that the dreamers are trying trying to work out how their faith (what they believe), their hope ( what they long for), and love (which always binds things together), are supposed to work out in light of what’s going on in the world and in their lives. And so it is true with Joseph. It says in the scriptures that Joseph is a righteous man, He’s a good guy. He’s trying to be holy. He’s trying to live his faith. But he finds out that his betrothed, Mary, is with child. And things are kind of a mess. How is he supposed to live in faith, hope and love in this news? What’s going on?
He thinks he’s got a solution. Joseph is aware that he thinks there may be something else going on, some other backstory to Mary’s pregnancy. He knows he loves her, but the laws say not very nice things should happen to single mothers. He knows that doesn’t sound right either, and he’s thrown into dreaming – to sort everything out – to figure it all out. And what does God tell him? Something crazy – something his friends probably would disagree with: ‘take Mary into your house. This child is of God. Trust the dream Joseph. Trust that there is something more. You don’t have to have all the answers Joseph. You just gotta dream with God. Step out, Joseph; on Faith, what you know and believe about God; on Hope, what you know God can make happen; and step out on love, that binds it all together. Because God can make amazing, ridiculous things happen. And Christmas will come, in part, because Joseph did just that.
If that’s the model for getting ready for Christmas, think about it, what is God saying to you in your dreams? What do you dream about? What is written deep down in your heart? About you and your world and all those things. What do you know about God? Where is your faith? What do you hope for? And what does love tell you about how the world should be? Because that world out there does not always understand who you are and who shall you be.
Maybe deep down inside you want to be a musician. Musician? That’s crazy! You’ll never make any money at that! You can get a job.
Really? Poets, writers, artists, dream dreams.
You really want to be an electrician. “Oh I want you to go to college!” No, that’s not who I am.
I want to go to college. Oh you’re not smart enough.
Put away those voices in your head and what others say. What does God tell you?
Maybe you’re in a relationship that is not good, abusive, or unhealthy. I can’t break up with them. How will I get on?
Or maybe you’re afraid to fall in love. I know I should trust, but I can’t.
What’s the dream you keep in your heart.
I’m tired of being an engineer, I want to do something else with my life. Oh no you got to stay. Job security.
Security is not a gospel value.
What does God say in your heart?
I want To get involved in politics. I want to speak for the people. Oh you know how politicians are.
Not all of them who dream dreams.
What about the dream that is placed in your heart for this world? Do we believe that by our actions everyday we really can beat swords into plowshares, that we cannot train for war anymore, that lions and Lambs can get along, do we know that in our hearts?Can we make it happen in our lives, and trust that God will make a way out of no way?
What are your dreams? What do you feel? Where do you want to go with it?
My brothers and sisters, our God is a God of dreaming, of moving forward. God is speaking to each and everyone of us in our hearts. God is who we each are supposed to be with our individual talents and gifts. That’s us, like Joseph called to dream a dream with God; to trust and step out on faith; to hope for a world made new that only God can fix. Christmas is coming, Christmas happened, and the reign of God is at hand. But what does God need each one of us to do? What dreams are placed in our hearts? We don’t have to have the answers. Joseph did not have to have the answers. We need to step out and trust in this God, let God dream with us, and wake up to follow that dream.