Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dream the Church -- A Sermon for Pentecost

Homily for Pentectost, Year B, 2009
Sunday, May 31st, 2009
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Thornhill, ON
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: Acts 2:1-21

“… And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
-- Acts 2:17

To dream, to dare to dream, is a part of Christian vocation. For men and women, young and old, to dream is to have hope. We dream about who we could become, who we are becoming in the hands of a loving God. Who we are becoming and who we might be – these things form the essence of our Christian dreaming. We dream about our place in the story, we dream about our community’s place in the story, and we dream about the place of the Church in the world. We dream about what God is doing and will be doing in the days ahead to further His kingdom here on Earth. More profoundly, though, our dreams and longings are longings placed on our hearts by the Spirit of God, the Spirit that gave birth to the church and continues to give birth to our spirits as it is poured out in Holy Baptism.

In the Upper Room, the disciples waited, prayed, and dreamed. They dreamed of the promised gift of the Spirit, they dreamed of the future and their place in it, and they dreamed about what the continuing presence of Christ might mean for them and their world. As it was for them, so to it is for us. As it shaped the longing of the disciples, God’s Holy Spirit shapes our human longing into a holy longing and our human dreaming into holy dreaming. As God’s love is poured out upon us our longing and dreaming is brought to perfection by that same Spirit. To dream is to invite God’s Holy Spirit to enter into our broken lives, wherever we are, in whatever state we find ourselves, and ask for the wings of the Spirit to unfurl in our dreaming. To dream the Church, to dream the Kingdom, is to invite God’s Holy Spirit into our humanity and shape our dreaming and longing into a Christ-like longing for the reconciliation of the world to God.

Our Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, our spiritual leader, has called us to dream. As Canadian Anglicans what are our hopes and dreams for the future of this Anglican Church of Canada. The dream is not simply about what any one of us in particular want the Church to be, but rather for each of us give voice to the voice of the Spirit of God speaking to us individually that we might hear collectively the call of God to Anglicans in this country in the years to come. Like disciples in an Upper Room, we wait and pray; we dream and long. There may be many different voices, many different languages, many different images in our visions and dreams, but can we be open to the Spirit as it descends and allows us to understand one another, even when we speak in different tongues, different voices, appealing to different images, metaphors and paradigms? Can we, will we dare to hear each other and dream together?

Next Sunday, Trinity Sunday, has been declared Vision 2019 Sunday. A most appropriate day indeed, for the Trinity is nothing if not the diversity of persons in united purpose and loving harmony. In our dreaming and purpose can we mirror the divine life of the Blessed Trinity? In our wonderful diversity of persons let us let us dream together the Church and the Kingdom under the blessing of the Spirit that hovered over creation and recreates us day by day. Your pew leaflet includes an insert with ways in which we can dream together, as a parish, and as Canadian Anglicans. I encourage you to take up these opportunities and join your dreaming and longing to the dreaming and longing of Anglicans across this great nation and in this great Church of ours.

Perhaps I could begin. What do I dream?

I dream of a Church that has no fear or reservation in making the Gospel of Christ, the story God’s reconciling love, known to a hurting world.

I dream of a Church that turns to God again and again in prayer and listens to what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

I dream of a Church in which all the children of God are welcome, and not turned away because of human prejudice or human fear of those who are different.

I dream of a Church that has the courage to stand up to the injustices and prejudices of the world around us, and champion the voice and cause of the dispossessed, the marginalized, and the forgotten.

I dream that God will journey with those who have left the Church, and yes, even abandoned their faith in light of the ways that the Church has hurt so many in our history.

I dream that God will open our eyes to the harm we have done through ignorance, selfishness and naiveté. Thus, I dream and long for a meaningful reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged.

I dream of a Church of courageous people gathered under the banner of Christ who stand together and say no to the dark forces of this world that would have us believe that our human value is rooted only in what we can buy or what we can sell.

I dream of a Church that says proclaims a resounding “no” to the selfishness of within us and around us that leads us to destroy, rather than nurture and care for God’s good creation.

And I dream of a Church in which every one of God’s children knows and feels the healing and reconciling love of God in Christ, no matter how broken they are, defeated they are, no matter how sick, depressed or demoralized, I dream that God’s love will be known to any and all in need, strife or affliction, and I dream that we will be the people to carry that love to the world.

This is what I dream and this is what I long for, upon attempting to listen to the voice of God’s Holy Spirit. What do you dream for? What is your holy longing? It is time to share the ponderings of your heart. It is time for men and women, young and old to dream dreams and share their visions that God might shape our dreams and our visions into the vision of his kingdom.

Text copyright 2009 by the Rev. Daniel F. Graves

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