Monday, 31 March 2014
Sermon March 30, 2014 Lent 4
During Lent we have been exploring Spiritual Renewal in our Lenten Journey and exploring different ways we can be open to how God is speaking to us and guiding us on our journey. As we are each unique children of God we are each going to experience different ways in which we can connect with the divine so it is important that we experience different ways in which people have found helpful.
In the first three Sundays we explored Lectio Divino- Holy Reading, the Labyrinth which is a moving prayer, and Centering Prayer with is silent prayer. Today I want to explore another way which has an long tradition of being a way in which God speaks to us - but one like the labyrinth was lost to our culture for many centuries. This is listening to God through our dreams.
In the Old Testament lesson Isaiah gives us a vision of God’s kingdom. This is not specifically a dream but visions can be considered a waking dream. Many of the prophets of old received dreams and visions from God and shared those experiences with their people.
Dreams as a way of God speaking to the people of God occur many times in the bible. Can anyone give me an example of God speaking to people in dreams……..
One example that I especially like is Jacob’s dream of a ladder between heaven and earth. Let me read it to make it fresh in your mind.
10Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.11He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.12And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.13And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring;14and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.15Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
16Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”17And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”18So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.19He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first.
I particularly like this passage because it is about a dream and it describes the way dreams work. We have angels – messengers from God going between heaven and earth. It is interesting that the angels are ascending first and then descending. My understanding of this is that Jacob was initially ready to receive a message. He was therefore prepared for receive the messages that came to his from heaven.
Although dreams were recognized in biblical times and in the early church as a way God communicated with people it became discounted and lost to us in modern times. This happened for many reasons. The church hierarchy did not like the idea of people having direct communication with God. This bypassed the authority of the church and the clergy wanted to maintain control over people’s understanding of God’s message. In addition the enlightenment began to discount anything that could not be measured and weighed and had a material foundation. Dreams became what can be called God’s forgotten language.
In the modern era there began to be a recovered understanding of dreams as a way of receiving messages about ourselves. Beginning with the founders of depth psychology – Freud and Jung - a new understanding of dreams and a rediscovery of the meaning of dreams has occurred which I want to explore with you briefly.
How many of you dream?..... I should probably have asked how many remember their dreams. Everyone dreams but not everyone remembers them. Everyone can with the right conditions. It is also important to understand how God speaks to us through dreams. God can speak to us as God did in the bible – with direct messages – these might be called big dreams. God also speaks to us through dreams giving us information about what we need to know about ourselves. Dreams can help us become the people that God intends us to be. Dreams provide information when our lives are out of balance. They can point to how we can develop more fully the part of ourselves aspect of ourselves that we have not acknowledged even though they are part of who God creates us to be as unique individuals.
In understanding dreams a good way to begin is to be aware that all the aspects of the dream – from individuals you know and individuals you don’t know to inanimate objects such as cars or houses are usually aspects of the dreamer. It is important to know where the energy is in the dream and where the movement is. In remembering your dreams the most important aspect is having the intention of remembering and paying attention. Have a pen and paper available to record your dream. That is the next step – write it down and consider the images in the dream. What is your associating with them? Write down any associating with the people or the other images.
Of course there is much more to say on the approach but I will stop there. If you would like to find out more I would be most interested to talking to you at another time. Finally it is important to understand that all dreams come in the assistance of health and wholeness of the dreamer – even ones that don’t seem that way. I will close with the prayer we use in dream groups.
Holy Dream Maker, creator of all,
Be with us as we open our hearts and minds
To the divine wisdom of dreams
you have blessed us with.
We thank you and honour you
who nurture, tend, and guide us,
You show us the way to health and wholeness
not only in our waking hours
but even as we sleep. Amen