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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Friday, November 17, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Gods Dream

God’s Dream
John 13:31-35
Last summer I stepped out my front door and noticed a hummingbird lying on its back on the deck its tiny feet curled up and still. Thinking the bird had died after hitting a window or being attacked by another creature, I prepared to remove it from the deck. But as I bent down to examine it I saw its heart still beating rapidly, but detected no movement otherwise. In the process of picking it up and placing it in the palm of my hand, it seemed as if its neck or back was broken and it was certainly going to die. But I could not let it die alone, so I held it, fully prepared to see its little heart stop beating at any moment. I marveled at its beauty, the iridescent sheen of its green and red feathers. Half an hour later the hummingbird hadn’t died, so I took it inside, found a shoe box, lined it with a soft cloth and gently place the tiny bird in the box. A few more minutes passed.   The bird had not moved nor had it died. A few more minutes passed and then I noticed a tiny movement from the bird. I spoke very softly to the bird, as if my words would encourage it to rally. A few more minutes passed and it began to struggle in the box, flopping about. So I placed it back on the deck out of the box and watched as it flopped about a little more, then hopped from the deck onto the driveway. A few more minutes and it took a short hop further then managed a short flight to a low branch in a nearby tree. Then, to my relief, it flew away apparently none the worse for its experience. The next day, as I was standing on the deck drinking my morning coffee, the little hummingbird flew up close to my face and chattered for a few minutes as if saying “thank you” (my interpretation of course) then flew away.
 
I wonder how many times we find ourselves flat on our backs, paralyzed by our reactions to the hardships of life, unable to move ourselves forward, unable to pick up the pieces and carry on. And then, how many times have we found ourselves cradled and nurtured by God, like that hummingbird, through those hardships until we find ourselves able to move forward in strength and with courage. Why? Why does God bother with us in the first place? Why does God care about knowing each word before we even utter it as the psalmist so eloquently states? And why does God care that we come back to say thank you and give Him our praise and worship every Sunday?
 
Because God has a dream! And in that dream God sees a world that functions like it was intended to function. God sees a world where people do not try to destroy each other, where the evening news is not filled with reports of acts of violence and greed and slander and destructiveness. God sees a world where people nurture one another, where children grow up not knowing hatred and bigotry. God’s dream is a big one, a seemingly impossible one. Has there ever been a period in human history where that dream even seemed possible? Well, yes, most of us know the story of the Garden of Eden, where God walked in the cool of the evening talking with the humans he created. We know the story of how things went wrong. And, if we have read through the history of God’s people in the Bible, we have learned of God’s repeated attempts to reconcile with humans, repeated attempts to get humans to believe in the dream. But we have not been very good learners. Time and time again we have failed to live as if God’s purposes really mattered. We have always wanted to do things our way, and we have done a great job of working against God’s will in spite of our good intentions to walk in step with God’s intentions for us.
 
The ultimate expression of our ability to thwart God’s dream came in God’s attempt to walk among us in the person of Jesus. God gave us such a remarkable gift in Jesus. But we rejected the gift by trying to destroy it on a cross. By all rights God should have gotten angry with us, angry enough to destroy us, to give up on us and wipe us out. But that’s not what God did.  God gave us the gift back, so it could not be destroyed. God gave us a new and powerful way to catch bits and pieces of his dream, an even greater ability to be what God created us to be.
In the death and resurrection of Jesus our Christ, God gave us His Spirit to open our eyes, our minds, our hearts to the bits and pieces of the dream we are able to grasp and understand. In that Spirit God gives us the ability to hold a paralyzed hummingbird and see a similarity to the way God holds us and loves us. God gives us the ability to read holy words (the Bible) and find inspiration for living righteously in relationship with god and each other so that there are moments of peace. God gives us those times of strength and conviction when we can stand against injustice and free those who are victims of tyranny and oppression. God even gives us the ability to see beyond this life, beyond death into a world where tears are no more, into a home, made for us when our time here on earth is over.
 
I caught of glimpse of that sense of life beyond our earthly existence last Sunday. The congregation was told of a young man who had been on the prayer list for such a long time. He was 16 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. Very recently he had been given a transplant and struggled with recuperating from that operation. His family was told that he didn’t stand very good a chance for recovery. Then when hope seemed to be lost, the family got good news that their son had recovered enough to come home. So with great rejoicing they prepared for his homecoming. And then the phone call came. As the young man was being prepared for his trip home, he had suddenly reached his arms out and up and exclaimed, “Thank God, at last he has come to take me home!” and then he slipped peacefully into death and into new life. It seems his healing had been complete after all. Even in the wake of the tragedy of death, that family had caught a glimpse of God’s dream, a dream where cancer does not have the final word, where life is made whole for all eternity.
 
You and I will be in the process of catching God’s dream in the time we have together. A good friend of mine calls it the breath of life that we travel on with God. We will find those glimpses and catch moments of the breath of life that help move us into becoming a part of the reality of God’s possible dream. We have each been given a purpose to fulfill and it is in fulfilling that purpose, no matter how insignificant that purpose seems, that God’s dream is realized. 
 
So let us be about God’s dream together. In the next several months you will be adjusting to a new pastor, but also in the next couple of months this pastor will also be adjusting to a new congregation. But rest assured that God will use all our efforts, as only God can, to bring about new understandings of what it means to be created in God’s image and to know that what God has created is very good indeed. May we be blessed in our time together, blessed with greater faith and the strength and confidence to reach out in the name of Christ to a world that needs to hear God’s message of hope.     
         
This church has a good heart for God. You are a wonderful people of faith. And I am looking forward to and honored to be working with you to further the kingdom of God.

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