Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Sermon March 6, 2016 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.
Two Sundays ago we explored Lectio Divina— Holy Reading and for those who would like to experience that more fully we have a Lectio Divina Group that meets at 9:30 before the service on Sundays.  Last Sunday I introduced you to the Labyrinth which is a moving prayer.  When you experience the Labyrinth it is important to take your time and not rush through the journey.  As in life it is also the journey and not just the destination which is important.  Today I want to explore another way which has a 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.
The Old Testament lesson from Genesis recounts Jacob’s dream of a ladder between heaven and earth.  In biblical times people generally understood dreams to be a way in which God communicated with people.   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……..
I especially like the story of Jacob’s dream of a ladder between heaven and earth. 
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—Sigmund Freud and Carl 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.  However, 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 more fully 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. 

One figure that is the easiest to recognize in dreams—and one of the most important—is the shadow.  This figure, which is usually the same sex as the dreamer will be dark and probably not someone you know in waking life, will have characteristics that represent aspects of yourself that you do not want to recognize.  They will be rejected parts of yourself that are presented to you in dreams.  The purpose is to acknowledge those aspects of yourself and relate to them consciously. These are often characteristics that you consider to be negative but also can be positive.  These are aspects of who God made you to be—a unique child of God. 

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 have graduated from a program as a facilitator of dream groups and would be most willing to talk to people who might be interested in having a group at St. Anne’s and St. John’s.  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 in our dreams.
We thank you and honour You.
As you guide us in the way to health and wholeness,
 may we be open to the blessings of your message    

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