Do you dream? I do from time to time. Our church has a ministry that includes dream interpretation, and a member of the team gave an overview of its purposes and methods to my Middle School Sunday School class during the summer. I remember very little about the interpretations aspect, but one thing he said has stuck with me – ask God to give you dreams. I remember to do that from time to time, and He does!
Last night / early this morning I was dreaming when I sorta-awoke. I was dreaming about Quicken and what I might replace it with if I move away from the Mac. How would I keep track of all my accounts? (Too many credit cards, I’m thinking!) Bizarre dream, yes? And this one I should remember? Really? And what on Earth does that have to do with Advent – a time of expectant waiting, both for the celebration of the Incarnation of God, but also for his triumphant return? Not much, you might think.
But then I read from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s God is in the Manger, which my book club is reading together as a devotional during this season. Quoting from Day Three:
Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that is supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us — the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger. God is coming; the Lord Jesus is coming; Christmas is coming. Rejoice, O Christendom! *** I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious; the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: “We are beggars; it’s true.” The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth.
A shaking of heads, perhaps even an evil laugh, must go through our old, smart, experienced, self-assured world, when it hears the call of salvation of believing Christians: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us.”
And Day Six:
Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent: one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other—things that are really of no consequence—the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.
(Quotes from Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. God Is In the Manger (p. 13). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.)
Two other events to tie in: 1) A student in Sunday School reported yesterday that someone complained, and they’re no longer singing “Oh, Christmas Tree,” but rather, “Oh, Winter Tree” in their school “Winter” program or whatever they call it. Have we really reached this level of absurdity in our society? 2) I have my phone set up to send notifications from USA Today and a couple of other news sources; it’s one way I keep up with what’s going on. This morning the New York City subway bombing popped up. I just weep for our world, especially for the Muslim men (mostly) who are driven to do this – by what? How is it that they are so convinced that life is not worth living?
And the dream comes into focus! … one waits, hopes, does this, that, or the other – things that are really of no consequence… isn’t that what so much, way too much, of our lives is made up of? How do we change that? How do we change our focus from Quicken and reconciling our accounts? How do we understand that until we truly understand the gift God has given us – of himself as Man, we have nothing to give anyone else? Well, one way is to pause, call “TIME OUT” and truly celebrate this season we call Advent.