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Advent 5 – Dreaming

December 12, 2005 Leave a comment

Advent 5
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

Well, at least my brother is. Every year for as long as I can remember, Jeremy has dreamed of a white Christmas. Most of the time, his dream does not come true.

This year little children all around the world will dream of white Christmases, as well as beautiful baby dolls, magical toys and fun-filled games. Christmas day will come with grand spectacle. They’ll tear through gifts, eat till their stuffed, and play till they pass out. Christmas will come and go in a flash.

In the afterglow, some if not all, will feel a hint of disappointment. In spite of the grand excitement, in spite of the fantastic delights, there will be a hint of emptiness, a yearning for something more. Some parents may even notice this hint of sadness and scold their children for selfishness.

But the children will come by this feeling honestly. They already experience, in their own child-like way, a hint of the angst of the human condition. Nothing fully satisfies. The fruit was sweet for a moment, but the bitter aftertaste poisoned the tongue to any lasting delight.

This feeling is so small in children that it rarely quenches their expectations for tomorrow. Soon they are excited and looking forward to the next big thing. Dreams grow in their hearts like apples on a thriving tree; new buds always replace the fallen fruit.

By the time they grow into teenagers, many children still maintain their capacity to dream. Only now, they have a new energy that comes with puberty and they sense they can do anything. They can conquer the world!

Many translate these dreams into stunning projects from social to personal: and they literally do change the world. But often over time, that angst returns.

Whether they realize their dreams or experience failure, they still feel this sense of disappointment. And gradually, for many, wonder fades, and they forget the zeal of youth. Bitterness, frustration, self-ambition, the tyrannies of the moment, all the pressures of life in the modern world gradually sap these plants of their vitality. And for so many, the hope and dreams of youth forever fades.

The Israelites knew this darkness. Captured and held captive in Babylon, they forgot the old songs and knew only grieving. Their God forsook them, failed them and forever forget them.

But then the unexpected…into their forsaken lives came the voice of God. The promise of God restores youth, offers restoration and opens new possibilities. They learned to dream again.

Advent is the season to dream dreams. During Advent, we watch and wait for the coming of the Lord. The anticipation of His coming taps in the hope the Israelites discovered in captivity. His kingdom will forever eliminate the power of sin in this world and gather together in one all things in Christ. Advent looks with hopeful expectation to the victory of Christ realized in all things. Advent gives us power to see through the disappointments of living to the hopeful future that cannot be stopped.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
experienced disappointments and grief in the darkest hours of the Civil War. His faith hung in the balance:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

The world wearies our soul and saps our strength. The faith of many grows cold. Yet in the midst of darkness, Longfellow saw a glimpse of hope:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

The bells become a reminder that kingdom of God cannot be thwarted. God’s purposes have prevailed and will ultimately transform the world. The lion really will lay down with the lamb.

This is the hope of Advent waiting. This is the joy of Advent longing.

Our hope is not in the pretty packages of the moment. Each desire we fulfill and each goal we achieve is momentary and passing. Like the children on Christmas morning, we look for something more.

We still yearn for something that earth cannot satisfy. We are searching for a city whose founder and architect is God. So we yearn toward that city where love will prevail. We translate this yearning into simple acts of love and kindness in the present moment. These actions spring from faith that the good really does win.

This Advent, may we learn to dream dreams again.

May we become like little children, ever expectant and hopeful for the goodness of God. And as we reach out toward the coming of the Son, may we transform everything we touch into a glimpse of the love and joy and peace of the kingdom of God.

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