Toorak Uniting Church

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Dreams and visions

Genesis 28: 10 – 22
Rev. Anneke Oppewal
9:00am, 17 July 2005

We probably all dream. Although I have met people who maintain they don’t. Not consciously anyway. They go to bed at night, they are asleep as soon as they hit the pillow and they wake up in the morning completely refreshed not remembering anything of what went on in between. I reckon they miss out on a lot. Because in dreams everything is possible.

You could be batman for a night, or find yourself dining with Clark Gable (not that I find him particularly attractive, but nevertheless), you could be a pop star singing at live aid, or you could be a world-renowned concert pianist just for one night. You could fly down the Grand Canyon with only a sleeping bag to hold on to by way of parachute and land safely. You could find yourself on the moon or exploring the deepest darkest ocean. Anything.

Some people do the dreaming in the day time. Their eyes glaze over and they seem to look at something in the far distance. When you talk to them they only very reluctantly come back to earth and will look at you slightly irritated and disturbed if you address them when they are in this mood. To them dreaming is serious business.

People who are in love do a lot of dreaming. They imagine all sorts of situations where they find themselves with the man or woman of their dreams, preferably alone.

We dream, as people. And even when we say we don’t, we still have this amazing ability to imagine things that are not actually there, to envisage things that aren’t actually happening, to picture things that aren’t real.

In the Bible there is a lot of dreaming going on. Especially in the Old Testament. All sorts of odd things happen in those dreams. People get messages, people see things, hear things, experience things at night in their dreams that have a direct impact on their daily lives. They take far reaching decisions because of dreams (Abraham), they change their lives and even the lives of whole people (Pharao), they get shared with others and prompt activity there (Joseph and his brothers). It’s weird really when you look at it from a 21st century perspective, where most of us regard people that are into dreaming and take the interpretation of those nightly free wanderings of the spirit seriously as a bit suspicious. And generally regard day dreamers as softies who will never go far in this world.

Because our world is a world of hard fact and stark truths. We call it being realistic, we hail it as keeping our feet firmly on the ground and staying sober.

Now for the sake of a little bit of idle Sunday morning fun let us daydream for just a little bit.
About a world without terrorism. A world without poverty. A world without AIDs. A world without people dying. A world full of friendly faces and loving relationships. A world full of friendly people and abundance for all.
Can you see it? Can you feel it? And what does it do for you? Does it lift you up? Does it stimulate any ideas as to how we could get any closer to such a world? Does it make you any happier?

Good, dream on!

Or does it make you feel desperate? Feel like it is something that is unattainable anyway? Never to be reached lala land? Not so good, and I would suggest you stop dreaming straight away.

What happens to Jacob in the story is something different but similar. Jacob’s is a night dream and not a day dream, although the realists of today would probably say they can detect a lot of wishful thinking at work there. After deceiving his father, cheating his brother and saying goodbye to his dear mother Jacob has probably run all day.

If anything he probably expected nightmares when he picks up his stony pillow and puts his head down. And if there was any justice that is what should have happened anyway.

It doesn’t. Like the rippling music of a harp there are suddenly angels moving up and down a ladder that reaches all the way into heaven. And I imagine they take Jacob’s gloomy panicky thoughts up and come down with something better. Suddenly God is standing there too, next to Jacob, speaking words of promise and blessing.
At this stage, if I’d been Jacob, I would have been trying to pinch myself (only you can’t do that when you’re really dreaming). This can’t be happening and it sure can’t be true. All wishful thinking, the mind projecting what it would want to happen into the night sky.

That’s what we would think.

It isn’t. Jacob’s dream will come true and not only because this is a real God dream contrary to the normal middle of the night stuff we get. It is also because Jacob believes in it and will work very hard in the next couple of years to make it true. He will use every trick in the book to make happen what God tells him will happen in his dream. Alternative feeding programs for goats, the acquisition of two good wives and cunning business strategies will make him rich before he returns asking his brother for forgiveness.

And there is something for us to learn there. Not only to take our dreaming seriously, but to put some effort into making those dreams come true we know are of God. By joining God in his dreaming about a better world and make it happen. By letting our thoughts run free and our imaginations go wild with the possibilities and not think that it is unrealistic and too far fetched what we can see in our minds eye. God has made more impossible things happen than bringing Jacob from rags to riches. He raised Jesus from the dead, he brings light into our lives, he fills our heads with dreams if only we will allow him to get our imaginations going.
So let us not give up, but dream on!

© Rev. Anneke Oppewal, 2005

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