Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 22 December 2013
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Some people dream of becoming an actor, a fireman, an astronaut, or president. I dreamed about becoming a singer. My Dad told me I sang too loud. I felt like the ugly duckling. My voice did not fit the songs everyone sang around the piano. Popular songs required a voice that is mostly flat and without vibrato. I sang in choir, school musicals, I worked at a theater during the Summer months and once sang in a professional production of Cabaret. Nonetheless, I did not feel comfortable with my voice and I could not afford a voice teacher. It was not until college that I found my way. I was taking music classes at Santa Monica City College at night and working during the day. One night as I walked down the hall towards my music theory class I saw an advertisement for a Music Scholarship in the Arts. From that moment on I could think of nothing else but winning that scholarship. I thought I might have a better chance of winning the scholarship if the music faculty knew me. So I signed up for classes in Piano, Voice, Music History, and Composition. I worked hard. After a year went by I finally auditioned for the scholarship. Over a hundred gifted students auditioned.
It is important to dream. In the Proverbs of Solomon it says that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18) Athletes are taught to imagine what it feels like to win the race and hear the crowd cheer. To have a dream is to have hope. Your dreams may change. Some may fall away. Yet it is important to live with hope. It is important to work hard towards worthy goals. It is important to develop a vision for life that takes into account the gifts God has given us. We need a plan or a vision in order to keep our hope active and alive.
Joseph came from a long line of dreamers. He dreamed that his family was in danger. If he told anyone in Bethlehem that King Herod wanted to kill his newborn son they would have laughed at him. He left for Egypt before any soldier knocked on the door and saved the lives of his son and his wife. What did it feel like to believe in something that could not be seen or proven?
I believe God plants dreams in our hearts, whispers his will for us when we are receptive, and helps us to achieve his will for us in time. The dreams may not make sense initially. They can take years to mature. The dreams may appear to die only to return unexpectedly.
I once dreamed of becoming a priest. This was strange because I was raised Lutheran and Lutherans have pastors not priests. Still I have always taken my dreams seriously even when they do not make sense. In my case the dream of becoming a priest was put on a shelf while I tested out other dreams.
I won the music scholarship. I was awarded a mentor who became a trusted friend. I learned how to sing. I learned how to perform and how to deal with my nerves before going on stage. Even though I did not continue to pursue a music career the things I learned helped me in unexpected ways. I became a Corporate Trainer. Performing and preparing to perform are similar tasks to teaching. The experience of equipping men and women for success, and the lessons learned in marketing & communications and new technologies as a Corporate Trainer will come in handy in helping our congregation grow. As the Apostle Paul said, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.” (Romans 8:28-39) We are a family.
I pray that God will plant new dreams in our hearts this year and that we will be receptive to God’s voice. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Amen.