Saturday, December 28, 2013

Beware the Dream Snufffers (Luke 21:5-19)

     I have a dream.

     Those are some of the most powerful words that could ever be spoken by anyone . . . you . . . me . . . anyone.  I have a dream.  With those words one expresses a vision . . . a hope . . . a goal . . . the start of a new journey.  It is the promise of something to come.  We have all had dreams . . . we have all spoken those words, but are any of us living the dreams we had hoped for?  Are any of us doing what we dreamed we would be doing at this point in our lives?  Or, were they just dreams?

     At a recent workshop that we hosted at the university, the speaker was talking about kids . . . talking about their hopes, aspirations, and their dreams . . . talking about how pivotal these were to the future behavior of these children as they grew up and how they behaved in the classroom, in their families, and in life.  Dreams are important he said . . . important to reach for; but, he also said, most kids will have their dreams snuffed out well before they even finish school.  Then he warned about watching out for the dream snuffers.

     Who were the dream snuffers?  Well, the dream snuffers were the teachers, counselors, coaches, parents, and even friends of children.  These were the ones who had the greatest propensity to stomp all over the dreams of children as they grew up.  Imagine a child has the dream to someday be a doctor . . . and, he tells everyone his dream.  The teacher tells the child that he isn’t even in the top of his class—how in the world do you think you can be a doctor!  The counselor tells the child that his test scores on the standardized testing point out that he would be better off pursuing something else because he didn’t show any aptitude for science—doctors have to know science!  His mother says that he is a chip off the old block . . . that he is just like his father, and that he would never be any better than that in life.  His friends . . . well, they just laugh and tease him about his aspirations.

     The result?  Well, the dream is snuffed . . . put out . . . killed.  The kid gives up . . . doesn’t believe in himself or in his dreams . . . settles for whatever happens . . . never realizes his dream.  And, it is sad.  It is sad to settle for something less than what one hopes for . . . what one dreams for.  That is the power of the dream snuffers.

     As we know, the life and times of Jesus were during a period of history in which Israel was under the iron-fisted rule of Rome.  It was a time of oppression by a tyrant government that would go to any length . . . even violence . . . to keep the people under their control.  These were bleak times for the people of Israel and the future did not look good.  In times such as these, people dream . . . they dream of freedom . . . dream of independence . . . and, with each dream the Romans and their cronies crushed each and every dream.  Jesus speaks to this in our scripture reading this morning . . . the dreams are crushed!  Crushed by the dream snuffers.

     Yet, Jesus tells the people to keep dreaming . . . keep reaching for their aspirations . . . their hopes, and to never give up.  That is what Jesus is telling the people in our reading this morning.  He is telling them to beware of the dream snuffers.

     What is their dream?  The restoration of God’s kingdom . . . the restoration of their relationship with God and with one another . . . freedom to be who God created them to be . . . the independence of God’s grace . . . the hope of God’s love.  In times of violent persecution, people dream of such a life.  Such dreams are detrimental to a dictatorship like Rome had, thus they crushed them.  Crushed them with an iron fist.

     But, Jesus tells the people to keep dreaming . . . don’t give up . . . don’t allow the dream snuffers to snuff their dream.  If they believe and never give up all their dreams will come true.  Believe, says Jesus, believe.

     It is not easy to dream when someone is stomping the heck out of your dreams.  It is not easy to dream when the words of those we trust, love, and believe in tell us our dreams are silly and worthless.  It is not easy to dream when the whole world stands there . . . laughing at us.  It is hard to hang onto the dreams we strive for no matter what age we are.  As I asked earlier, how many of us are living our dreams?

     Jesus is not pointing to the future in this reading . . . he is pointing to the present moment . . . the here and now.  Jesus never came promising a future, but a here and now.  He told people that it was possible for them to have the kingdom of God, and that they could have it now.  That they could have that relationship with God . . . that they could love one another . . . that they could be in the truth . . . and, that he was the way.  He was the way in the words that he spoke and in the way that he lived his life.  Believe, and never give up the dream, said Jesus.

     I think that it is peculiar how often we forget that there is nothing that we can do about yesterday, because it is already over . . . that we can do nothing about tomorrow, because it has not happened yet . . . and, that the only time that really matters is right now.  Right now, is the only time that we have any sort of control over.  How do we forget this so easily? The dream is not for yesterday or tomorrow, but for today.  For now.  So, why don’t we believe?

     Though we do not have the things that Jesus spoke about in our reading this morning to worry about, we still have our fair share of dream snuffers.  We have our fair share of naysayers . . . doubters . . . critics . . . and, people who just seem to enjoy stomping on our dreams.  The world is still filled with dream snuffers . . . so beware!

     Beware the dream snuffers and believe.  Believe in your dreams . . . God believes in you.  The Bible shows that time after time.  History proves it.  Think about it, we are here this morning because someone did not give up on the dream of God’s kingdom no matter how hard others attempted to snuff out their dreams.  We are here this morning because someone believed enough to keep dreaming . . . to keep striving to realize God’s kingdom.

     In Pinocchio a wooden puppet dreams of becoming a real boy.  His little side-kick, Jiminy Cricket, keeps telling him over and over again to keep believing . . . to never give up.  In the end, Pinocchio’s dreams comes true.  Do you remember what Jiminy Cricket says at the end?

     Dreams really do come true.

     Jesus tells those who listened then, and now, to never give up.  Believe.  The dream will come true.  Amen.

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