Start Where You Are

Start Where You Are

In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
   and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
   and your old men shall dream dreams.
~ Acts 2:17 (NRSV)

Then afterward
   I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
   your old men shall dream dreams,
   and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
   in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
~ Joel 2:28-32 (NRSV)

Start Where You Are

Disney tells us that a dream is a wish our heart makes when we’re fast asleep. Does anyone remember that song? Please join in if you do. “A dream is a wish your heart makes. When you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”

Well, I have to say that I do believe that dreams come true, but I also believe that dreams are far more than what we simply wish for. And that dreams don’t only happen in our sleep, but dreams are also the way that we imagine and think about the possibilities that lie ahead.

This morning we had our first household huddle. And I’ll admit that the household huddle needs a few tweaks. We have few growing edges to work through. It’s not perfect yet, but every time I dream and imagine about the possibilities of household huddle, I get so excited. Because in the busy, broken world that we live in, I think it’s so important for families and individuals alike to learn and know how to take a deep breath when life moves too fast, how to appropriately share with those around us, how to think and reflect on how the rubber hits the road when it comes to connecting our faith to the world around us, and finally, how to live lives of gratitude, always remembering the importance of saying, “Thank you.”

Now, you may have noticed that our bulletin looks a little different on the inside this week. We are going to start focusing on this model of breathing, sharing, reflecting, and thanking in household huddle, in worship, in meetings and gatherings around the church. And it’s my dream that it will also become a ritual for you at home, that you might gather each night around the dinner table or before bed with whoever is in your household, to take a deep breath, to share your highs and lows from the day, to reflect on the week’s scripture story and how that might connect to your highs or your lows, and to thank someone in your household, or thank God, for something that you might have taken for granted in the past.

Friends, to be honest, it’s not really anything new. Breathing, sharing, reflecting, and thanking have been a part of religious traditions for centuries. But every generation has it’s own dream and needs finds its own new way to experience it and live it out. In today’s scripture, we heard from the Book of Acts. Actually, it was a piece of the Pentecost Story that we heard on Children’s Day last spring, when the Holy Spirit came to help and to be an advocate for the followers of Jesus. The disciples were at a point where they weren’t sure what to do. Jesus had told them to share the good news to all ends of the earth, but can’t you imagine that they were feeling overwhelmed? They didn’t have very much money. They didn’t have many people stepping in to help them. How were they supposed share the good news to all ends of the earth? How were they supposed to make a difference? They were just a small ragtag group of Jesus followers. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Well, my friends, what Paul did was he listened to the words of the Prophet Joel, who prophesied more than five hundred years before Jesus, speaking to the Israelites, saying, “The Lord says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams. And your young men will see visions.’” And because of the words of the prophet Joel more than five hundred years earlier and the coming of Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the disciples knew that if they were going to carry out their mission, they were going to need to prophesy, meaning predicting possibilities ahead, in order to encourage others. They were going to need to dream, thinking of new possibilities and new ways of doing things. And they were going to need to be open to visions, as they dreamed of new ways of being the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. Again, my friends, this model is not new! Joel had introduced it to the people in 500 BCE. And generations have used this model to tweak and change their faith making it their own for hundreds of generations, and it’s not wrong. Change may not be easy, but it is the only way that we keep our faith relevant to each generation.

So the disciples started to dream about the idea of church, and when they did, do you think they dreamed of Oldtown? Or of the Sistene Chapel or of Notre Dame Cathedral? I don’t think so. They didn’t dream of tall buildings with steeples. They didn’t dream of bulletins and bibles and organs and ministers in long robes. On the contrary, they dreamt of community, and they dreamt of relationships and the way that people could work together and support one another as they reflected on their faith in Jesus.

Sure, Jesus had called them to share the Good News to all ends of the earth, but trying to do that in one day, or one year, or even in their lifetime was biting off more than they could chew. That dream was too big! So they started small. The disciples started where they were, with their households, sharing the stories of Jesus and encouraging families to live out their faith. And as they did, they taught others by their own example, just as Jesus had taught them.

Remember, my friends, the first gospel, or official written account of the life of Jesus, was not written down until about thirty years after Pentecost. And the New Testament as we know it, was not compiled until about three hundred years later. So the early Christian church consisted of sharing stories and building relationships. There was no fancy liturgy or big buildings with steeples. The followers of Jesus met in households, often huddling together out of fear of persecution. They learned by listening, and sharing, and reflecting, and living lives of gratitude. Does that sound familiar?

So friends, we’re going to do a little dreaming this fall about our church and how we can best encourage one another to live out our faith. Folks, in the next few weeks I encourage you to dream, and to wonder, and to imagine a church where you might feel encouraged and inspired to live as a follower of Jesus. I wonder, what would your new church look like? How would it run? What would the important pieces be? And most importantly, how would you be involved in bringing it to fruition?

Friends, we started today singing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” but let’s not just wish for a healthy, happy church that someday meets people where they are and spreads the good news to the ends of the earth. Let’s work at prophesying, and dreaming, and envisioning that church, then doing what we need to do to make it happen.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, give household huddles a try at home. And don’t worry about them being perfect! Remember that relationships are made of real people and real conversations. Then, take some time to dream of new ways of being church and how we can truly be the hands and feet of Jesus here in Oldtown, making a difference in the lives of others.

My friends, may it be so, thanks be to God, Amen!

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