D-R-E-A-M-S: Danger Revealed, Eminent Awful Message...Saves
Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 4 Jan., 2015, Christmas 2
RCL: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
If there were dreams to sell, what would you buy1???!
Writers such as Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, Alfred Lord Tennyson, T.E. Lawrence, W.B. Yates & Shakespeare have written about dreams. My favorite book about dreams (Windows of the Soul: A Look at Dreams and Their Meanings by Psychiatrist Paul Meier and Dr. Robert Wise) opens with a quotation from President Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln says about 16 chapters in the Hebrew scriptures and 4 or 5 in the Christian scriptures mention dreams...2
Our Gospel today tells us of 3 dreams by which God speaks to Joseph in order to keep the child Jesus safe.
When we speak of dreams & dreamers – we often sense a dreamy quality, a sense that the dream is make-believe & not real. Think of Kermit the Frog in The Muppet Movie as he sings “The Rainbow Connection”3:
Why are there so many songs about rainbows,
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, But only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told, And some choose to believe it,
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it,
The rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
What is this connection our Scriptures have with dreams & dreamers? What do dreams mean? In today's Gospel we can see that the word D-R-E-A-M-S spells Danger Revealed, Eminent Awful Message Saves.
You recall the wise men have left Bethlehem to go home a different way because they are warned in a dream about the nefarious Herod, who has ordered the murder of all boys 2 years old & younger in Bethlehem & its area. [History books beyond the Bible tell of Herod's many other murders during his rule from 37 B.C. to 4 A.D.4]
These Gospel dreams save. Think of the reality that comes into being to enhance lives from dreamers like Martin Luther King Jr. & Nelson Mandela. What about the reality of a dreamer like Joseph, who has 4 dreams about his work in God's plan as Jesus' dad here on earth.
Taking his dreams seriously, Joseph helps save Jesus' life
from the murderous Herod & then keeps Jesus safe from
Herod's equally nefarious son, Archelaus.5
Joseph's taking Jesus to Egypt recalls another Joseph, who is a dreamer & interpreter of dreams in Genesis, who helps save lives because he understands dreams. His descendants become so many, the Egyptians enslave them & God raises up Moses to save them. [If you see the movie Exodus: Of Gods & Kings, you'll recognize some big differences from what we read in Exodus.]
We see a pattern of people going to Egypt to escape hard times & then leaving, of rulers ordering the murder of Hebrew baby boys & one being saved to deliver God's people Remember: Jesus' name means "Savior" or "God saves"6.
Our Gospel tells us God leads the child Jesus to Egypt
& out from Egypt.
God remains in the Exodus business...”7
You & I are partners in this business.
Part of our work as Jesus' disciples is to share this Good News – this dream of freedom from bondage for people who are in darkness.
Share the Good News of the love of God
whose promise to love us is carried
after every rainstorm in each rainbow that you see.
What is that rainbow connection you can make for others? What dream can you share?
What does your dream for 2015 look like?
If there were dreams to sell, what would you buy?
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Paul J. Achtemeier. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1985.
Hoffacker, The Rev. Charles. “Zigs and zags”. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2014/12/17/2-christmas-abc-2015/. Accessed: 1 Jan. 2015.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
http://www.catholic.org/clife/jesus/jesusname.php. Accessed: 20 Dec. 2014.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Kautz, Richard. A Labyrinth Year: Walking the Seasons of the Church. Harrisburg: Morehouse. 2005.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 22 Dec. 2014.
Meier, Paul. M.D. Robert Wise, Ph.D. Windows of the Soul: A Look at Dreams and Their Meanings. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1995.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
The New Complete Works of Josephus. Revised and Expanded Edition. Translator: William Whiston. Commentator: Paul L. Maier. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. 1999.
Scott, Janice B. “The Tale of a Camel”. Accessed: 1 Jan. 2015. http://www.sermonsuite.com/content.php?i=788017537&key=6iwiesd0BUjzfkod.
Somerville, The Rev. David. “A Local Exodus in the Dark And a World Mission in the Light: A Reflection on the Gospels for Christmas II and the Epiphany”. Emailed document received 21 Dec. 2014. http://upcominggospel.com/. On the Gospel for Next Sunday. Accessed: 2 Jan. 2015.
Williams, Paul. Kenneth Ashcer. www.songlyrics.com/Kermit-the-Frog/therainbowconnection/llyrics. Accessed: 3 Jan. 2015.
1 Beddoes, Thomas Lovell. “Dream-Pedlary”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Quotations. P. 106.
2 Meier, Paul M.D. Robert Wise, Ph.D. Windows of the Soul: A Look at Dreams and Their Meanings. P. 1.
3 Lyrics by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ashcer. www.songlyrics.com/Kermit-the-Frog/therainbowconnection/llyrics. Accessed: 3 Jan. 2015.
4 Among them:The New Complete Works of Josephus. Revised and Expanded Edition and Harper’s Bible Dictionary.
5 Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Paul J. Achtemeier. P. 60.
7 Hoffacker, The Rev. Charles. “Zigs and zags”. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2014/12/17/2-christmas-abc-2015/. Accessed: 1 Jan. 2015.