Tuesday, March 1, 2016

These Dreams!

This week was vacation week on Monday my wife was away with a friend at her cancer appointment.
I told the kids we would go to the mall in Nashua.
Something we had never done that I thought might be fun.
My son had a dream that he bought an action figure from the star wars show “Rebels”.
He told me he didn’t know if the toy existed but he had seen it in his dream.
Sure enough they had the exact toy he saw in his dream.
One time my daughter lost her I-touch.
She had a dream that it was in the seat cushion of a chair in our house.
Sure enough it was right there.
I am actually surrounded by dreamers.
My wife is always having very strong vivid dreams.
In fact, I sometimes get in trouble for things I do, or don’t do, in her dreams.
Which is really unfair because I have a hard enough time doing the things I am supposed to do in real life, and now I have to behave in her dreams too.
Over the years because of my wife I have changed my thoughts on dreams.
I am not as quick to dismiss them as unimportant.
Dreams are significant pathways to our deepest fears, hopes, and thoughts.
According to clinical psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber “Dreams are the bridge that allows movement back and forth between what we think we know and what we really know.”
But according to the story of Joseph they are more than that even they are pathways to God communicating with us.
Dreams are ways that God gives us important information.

In today’s part of the story it is God who sends Pharaoh a dream about a famine that is coming, and about how to avoid it.
It is odd because all the things about Pharaoh’s dream speak to him from Egyptian gods.
The Nile for the people of Egypt was an important spiritual place.
The Nile was life itself.
Out of the river comes gods.
Cows were considered gods in Egypt.
Pharaoh’s dream was not merely his subconscious talking to him.
It was his gods telling him something.
What he would find out was that it was the God who was really talking.
On top of this Pharaoh by Egyptian standards was considered a god.
So when other gods speak Pharaoh should be able to tell what they are telling him.
But he can’t understand it.
He is disturbed.
Finally, Joseph tells him that it is not little gods telling him something, but God.
The one true God, the God of the universe who made the Nile and cows.
That God was telling Pharaoh something very important.
That God was sending a message that Pharaoh needed to hear in order to save his people.
God talked to Pharaoh in a dream.

I was just thinking that we probably don’t talk about this enough in our spiritual life together.
We don’t share our dreams.
We don’t share what we think God is saying to us through those dreams.
I know I don’t because when that does happen to me, and it has happened to me, I don’t want people to think I am crazy.

I can tell you that at least once a year I have a dream about not being prepared on Sunday morning.
I have a dream that I can’t find the pulpit, or I show up to church not expecting to preach and someone looks at me and says, “Well aren’t you going to say something.”
Part of it is my own fears about weather what I have to say is good enough or well thought out enough.
Also, it is my own anxiety about being prepared.
But maybe it is something more?
Maybe God is telling me something about the importance of what I say.
Maybe God is telling me that preaching is a sacred duty that needs to be taken seriously with good preparation and with something good to say.
You see I think we dismiss our dreams too easily if we don’t look for the possibility to what God is telling us.

Those dreams that we wake up and say, “Wow that was weird.”
Perhaps has more to it than meets the eye.
Dreams can make us look at situations differently help us to uncover what is really going on beneath the surface.

Some dreams are more obvious.
Shortly after my Dad died I had a dream about him.
It was on the 9th hole of the golf course we would golf together at.
That hole curves to the right, but straight ahead there is a rock.
He was sitting on that rock.
He told me, “I am good. Tell your mother.”

I want to share with you a dream I had once that really affected me.
I was in my first call as a pastor.
I had been at the church for about two years.
I wasn’t really happy there.
I was thinking of leaving.
One night I had a dream that I was floating above the narthex of the church watching people come in to worship.
Everything was black and white.
An angel appeared and told me that everything was about to change.
She then took me through the doors of the narthex into the sanctuary.
As soon as she opened the door the Church became colorful.
I looked and saw every kind of person singing and dancing (in a Lutheran kind of way) giving praise to God.
Black, white, Hispanic, middle eastern, African, German, Swedish, carribean, people in wheel chairs, old people, young people, middle aged, gay, straight.
It was a wonderful beautiful worship the kind you think happens in heaven.

It could be argued that it was just a projection of the type of congregation I hoped we would someday be.
But I took it as a sign from God that I was meant to stay there longer.
Things were happening to make that vision possible.
I don’t know if it ever looked exactly like that (there was no dancing for example) but it did come close at times.
I believe that dream was God speaking to me.
I believe that God speaks to you in your dreams too.
I hope we can be attentive to what God is saying.
I hope we can share those dreams together.

Now let me offer some advice about interpreting dreams.
That is important.
Because we could make our dreams say whatever they want.
One, like Pharaoh seeks out others to help you understand what you saw, or experienced.
The next morning I told Vicki about my dream and we together worked on what it might mean.
Two, this piece of advice comes from my wife.
Dream interpretation doesn’t necessarily mean that everything in that dream will mean something.
We don’t have to go out and buy a dream dictionary.
What is most important is how you felt during that dream.
What emotions did it bring up?
Fear, joy, love, hope, sadness.
Start with your emotions.
I woke up from my dream filled with joy at what I had seen and had more hope that it could be possible.
Finally, our dreams have to be in context of what we already know about God.
God speaks to us in our dreams when we can hear God’s voice that tells us about important things that show God’s love to us.
In Pharaoh’s dream Joseph could see that God would not want people to die during a famine.
Joseph knew God’s steadfast love.
The God that Joseph knew was a God that was there for him all those years he spent in prison.
At worship on Wednesday my son Charlie said, “It was like God had been planning for this for fifty years.”
Indeed the God of steadfast love that Joseph has come to know is the context for him being able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

And just like God spoke to Pharaoh through a dream.
God can speak to us.
Our dreams can help us understand our past; discern what to do in the future, how to live now.
Most of all we can see in our dreams God’s hand loving guiding us towards God’s future.

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