Dare to Dream: Dreaming the Dream

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Exodus 2:1-10.

This Sunday the Tuskawilla UMC Family begins a six-week sermon series that will study Moses, the leader of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. We will use Rev. Dr. Mike Slaughter’s book Dare to Dream as a guide for this study. Each Sunday’s bulletin will include questions for your engagement and reflection as you (we) discern God’s dream – God’s purpose – for our lives as individuals and as a congregation.

When I consider the word dream my mind immediately goes to the words of a man – of a 20thCentury prophet – who spoke of his dream – a dream he hoped was and would be the dream of all people – from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In March 1963 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have A Dream Speech before 250,000 Americans – black and white; male and female; men, women, and children – during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Many consider this speech the defining moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Many continue to hold dear to the truths King spoke that day. Many hope and wait for the day that all the truths he spoke will indeed become self-evident.

I count myself among those persons.

As I reread King’s speech* this week I am struck by this brief sentence at the heart of his witness, “We cannot walk alone.” For King this meant that for Americans to truly be free – black and white; male and female; men, women, and children – Americans had to believe and confess that our futures, our identities, our hopes, our fears, our nation, our lives were and are all caught up together. We are connected. We hold in common with every person everywhere our creation in the image of God. Because of our creation we have inherent worth, inherent dignity, and inherent value that cannot be stripped away by any person or system or prejudice.

Shortly after Adam’s creation God created Eve so that Adam would not be alone. They would be helpmates for one another, modeling and teaching all generations that we were created out of relationship and created for relationship. From the beginning we were created to walk and work together. And yet history – American, World, and Biblical – tells again and again the stories of how we have made a mess of things and resisted walking and working together.

King made this confession on behalf of a nation. And then he professed these words of faith,

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Work together. Pray together. Struggle together. Go to jail together. Stand up for freedom together. These are the makings of King’s dream so that all people would and will be free one day.

What an incredible dream. What a remarkable legacy. May these words continue to inspire us as God’s people to walk together rather than walking alone.

Prayer: “Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil he doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”** Amen.

*https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom

**“Trust and Obey,” The United Methodist Hymnal 467.

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Baptism of Our Lord Sunday

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 3:15-22.

Joshua loves water.

He loves water when it splashes. He loves water in mustaches. He loves water in his sock. He loves water ‘round the clock. He loves water in his cup. He loves water with rubber ducks! He loves water through a straw. To Joshua, water has no flaw!

*pause for effect*

I often joke that Joshua is remembering his baptism whenever he interacts with water. He is so curious. He is so joyful. He is quite messy. And he is oh so proud of himself.

The more I think about – I think he is teaching me about our ongoing relationship with our baptisms through his love of interacting with water.

  • After baptism I believe God hopes we have curious spirits that will continue to seek and nurture our relationship with God.
  • After baptism I know God wants us to be joyful. Our baptism draws us into the largest family on earth as it is in heaven – a family that, yes – at times, lets us down – and a family that, yes – apologizes, encourages, and supports one another.
  • Baptisms themselves can be quite messy because the water goes where it wants – what a beautiful thought about God’s grace, which the water symbolizes in this sacrament. That the water is abundant and messy reminds us that God’s love and grace are abundant and messy – especially in the moments in our lives when we are our messiest and need help being made whole.
  • And lastly I do think we can be proud of our baptisms. Not to lord them over others but in recognition of the faith claim we make through them or that our families made on our behalves. Our baptism acknowledges that we are not God – that we are coming under Christ’s Lordship – and that we are ready – excited – to be part of something greater than ourselves.

I am proud of that. So is Joshua. We hope you are, too.

Join us in worship this week as we celebrate remembering or anticipating our baptism in our worship services. And if you are interested in being baptized or have questions about this sacrament, please connect with me for conversation!

I’ll see you Sunday; that’s a fact. I’ll see you Sunday and that is that!

Prayer: “Wash, O God, our sons and daughters, where your cleansing waters flow. Number them among your people; bless as Christ blessed long ago. Weave them garments bright and sparkling; compass them with love and light. Fill, anoint them; send your Spirit, holy dove and heart’s delight.”* Amen.

*”Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters,” The United Methodist Hymnal 605.

 

The Three Wise (Wo)Men

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 2:1-11.

A couple months ago I shared an evening meeting with a family from the church and I admit my attire was quite casual. As we concluded our time together one member of the family stopped to study my shirt – a teal t-shirt emblazoned with a silhouette of the state of Florida and the words nevertheless she preached.

Nevertheless she preached…always up to something, aren’t you!?”

Yes. Yes, I am.

Students of Scripture know that women are not always cast in the best light in our sacred text; therefore, I cling to the moments that women are in fair light and seek the moments of hope and redemption for our Scripture sisters awaiting transformation.

Women were among the first to dance and sing of God’s deliverance through the Red Sea.

Women were the first witnesses to the resurrection.

Women were among and traveled with Jesus and his disciples.

Were women among the magi?

Were women…magi?

We have a tradition of three kings – king referring to male figures – because of the three gifts provided to the Christ child – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

And yet…

There could have been more gifts. There could have been more kings. Kings could have been a collective noun to group together male and female royalty.

There could have been women among the magi.

There could have been women magi!

I believe these imaginings are valid and worthy. Girls and women have a valuable place in this world. God created Eve alongside Adam. Women and men together have walked and weathered and wondered the journey of faith with God from the very beginning.

The worship of Jesus by the shepherds symbolizes the Jews worshipping God’s Son. The worship of Jesus by the magi symbolizes the Gentiles worshipping God’s Son. The Savior of the world is not just for some; the Savior of the world is for all. And imagining the presence of women worshipping Jesus in his nativity sends a powerful message of inclusion of the continuous presence of women in our narrative of faith.

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage…and having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:11a and 12). I trust the magi left praising and dancing. Upon returning to their homeland, I trust the magi witnessed to what they experienced and who they worshipped.

I trust that women were among the magi…that women were magi…and that nevertheless she (they) preached. From the Garden – from the Red Sea – from Jesus’ nativity – from the empty tomb – from today – for always.

Prayer: “O God, you made of one blood all nations, and, by a star in the East, revealed to all peoples him whose name is Emmanuel. Enable us who know your presence with us so to proclaim his unsearchable riches that all may come to his light and bow before the brightness of his rising, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.”*

*“Epiphany,” The United Methodist Hymnal 255.