Pentecost – We Have A Dream
June 4, 2017
“I have a dream…”
These words of Martin Luther King spoken not far from here
still resonate over 50 years later.
“I have a dream I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today,”
Martin Luther King Jr said.
King had a dream – Pentecost is about such dreams.
Our reading from the book of Acts says
that when the Holy Spirit is upon us,
we will dream – all of us will dream.
Sons and daughters,
Slaves and free,
Young men will see visions;
Old men will dream dreams.
King had a dream…a Holy Spirit dream to be sure!
So why is it that 53 years later,
On a weekend in May,
In Del Ray – a neighborhood of Alexandria –
Our neighborhood —
A series of racist flyers were posted on light poles and under windshields
on Commonwealth Avenue?
King had a dream…a Holy Spirit dream!
So why is it that cities and towns are just beginning to come to the grips with the fact that
our statues and streets named for Confederate leaders are harmful
and rewrite history to make it seem that these leaders were somehow on the right side?
King had a dream…a Holy Spirit dream…
So where is the oasis of freedom and justice?
Why are children still judged by the color of their skin?
Perhaps it’s because when King was dreaming,
many of the rest of us were still in deep sleep.
King was dreaming.
But the dream was his dream…his and that of a relative few.
It was his dream – and not yet our dream as Americans.
Even now, King would not be able to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,
and say, “We have a dream.”
The Holy Spirit is not yet done with his dream.
Pentecost is about the Holy Spirit breathing into us dreams and visions,
and one of the dreams our congregation has
is to help make King’s dream our dream.
We have a dream for racial justice.
And so our anti-racism team is educating ourselves…
We’re reading books by persons of color;
We’re visiting places like the Alexandria black history museum
And the Frederick Douglass house;
We’re learning about issues in our community which primarily affect persons of color here –
Things like affordable housing and public schools.
We want to be awakened to the Spirit’s dreaming.
We have other Holy Spirit dreams.
We have a dream that we would exemplify
Jesus’ radical welcome to everyone.
And so our Reconciling in Christ team is helping us
learn how we might welcome those in the LGBTQ community
who have been hurt by faith communities.
And our refugee resettlement team is coming together
To help resettle a refugee family sometime this summer.
We have Holy Spirit dreams.
We have a dream that our congregation will grow –
Grow deeper in faith and grow wider into the community.
This last dream is very specific –
We intend to grow by at least 10% in 3 years.
Growth isn’t easy.
It doesn’t come without preparing and planting and nurturing the soil.
So we have nametags…
Getting ready to make it easier for us to start conversations with newcomers.
I love that some of you made your nametags so unique –
by choosing a color you like,
or letting others know your favorite sports teams.
(It’s also nice to know that Meryl Streep made a nametag –
I must not have recognized her 😊 )
Growth isn’t easy.
And although friendliness is a big help,
Nametags alone won’t bring growth.
On Thursday night (at First Thursday in Del Ray),
those of us at the Good Shepherd table
were talking about our friends, neighbors, children, siblings
who aren’t part of a faith community.
And a challenge is that many aren’t looking for one either.
We can say we are part of this really great church!
– but they’re not looking – they’re not interested –
It’s not part of their dream.
There are many things our neighbors are interested in, though,
that a faith community can provide…
and we at Good Shepherd provide well.
Our neighbors are interested in spiritual connection with God –
nearly all the couples I meet with for premarital counseling –
whether they’re part of a church or not,
say that prayer is important to them.
Our neighbors are interested in developing relationships.
They’re interested in making a difference in the world
through service and engaging with social issues.
They’re interested in raising children who have values consistent with their own.
At our table on Thursday night we invited people to vote for
The fruit of the spirit they found most often in our community:
Kindness, Patience, Love, Joy, Gentleness, Generosity or Peace?
Families wanted their children to participate;
They wanted their children to think of these things,
to look for these things.
(Kindness got the most votes, by the way.)
Our neighbors are interested in raising children who have the fruits of the spirit.
Our neighbors are also interested in living meaningful lives of their own…
And a faith community can help people discover what that is.
In a commencement address several years ago,
NY Times columnist David Brooks shared with the graduates
what he thinks makes for a meaningful life.
He said many look for the things which will give them the most money,
or the most prestige.
His advice was, instead, look for the problem.
Look for the problem which summons your life –
that will be what will bring your life meaning –
that is your calling.
This language of ‘calling’ is something we in the faith community use all the time.
At Pentecost we are especially reminded that the Holy Spirit calls us…each of us.
The Holy Spirit gives each of us dreams and visions.
Martin Luther King clearly knew that there was a problem and that the Holy Spirit was calling him to that problem– it was summoning his life – his entire life.
May we too trust the Holy Spirit will summon our lives, call us,
And give us bold powerful dreams – these are indeed Holy Spirit dreams.