Do you enjoy dreaming? Do you ever remember your dreams? Do they ever reoccur? Have you ever dreamed about dreaming? Have you ever thought about sharing a dream? Having seen the film Inception, I will never think about dreams in the same way again. Inception is probably the most complicated, the most fast paced and dramatic sci-fi thriller I have ever seen. The premise is that professional thieves called “extractors” can invade people’s dreams to steal information via a drug-induced sleep that is shared by two or more people. From the ingenious mind of British filmmaker Christopher Nolan, Inception begs the question: what if you could share a dream with someone? Long before Christopher Nolan dreamed up the imaginary world of Inception, the Bible encourages us to dream, to imagine, to have visions of the future and to share the experience.
‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28)
Now I think Joel is talking more about ‘day dreaming’ than he is about night dreaming. You can’t do much about dreams at night but you can during the day. While ‘day dreaming’ is mostly associated with negative connotations, I believe we should consciously and actively cultivate the art of day dreaming. So, do you have any hopes or dreams for 2011? Are they like New Year resolutions, quickly made but soon forgotten, or will they stay with you and motivate you throughout the year ahead?
At Christ Church we have found a useful way to express our dreams has been to write out some ‘imagine’ statements. We’ve encouraged one another to imagine what kind of future we would like to see and express these ideas in simple sentences. These have helped construct a vision of the kind of future we aspire to. If you want a copy, visit our website http://www.cc-vw.org/imagine.htm or pick one up from the Church reception.
We could do the same for our community. Imagine returning to Virginia Water in five or ten year’s time. What would it look like? What would be your dreams for Virginia Water? What would your nightmares be? What would you like our community to become?
Imagine Virginia Water as a village free from crime, free from pollution, free from noise, free from stress, free from fear. Imagine Virginia Water as a place where children are safe walking to school on their own, safe playing in the parks and recreation fields. Imagine Virginia Water as a place where you are safe walking alone at night.
Imagine our community with no recorded crime. No speeding motorists, no burglaries, no shop lifting, no assaults. Imagine Virginia Water with no alcoholism, no drug abuse, no vandalism and no graffiti. Imagine not having to lock your windows or doors or gates at night. Imagine not needing an intruder alarm, surveillance cameras, high walls or need for the services of a security firm.
Imagine Virginia Water as a place where marriages last for life, where there is no infidelity, no unwanted pregnancies, no abortions, no child abuse, no adultery, no marital violence, no divorce.
Imagine our community respectful and protective of the various faith communities. Imagine no anti-Semitism, no Islamophoba, no anti-Americanism, no racism of any kind, but instead, a tolerant and caring community where minorities feel secure and accepted.
Imagine our elderly cared for by neighbours within the community. Imagine no one left alone, no one lonely, no one depressed, no one suicidal, but instead everyone valued, affirmed and encouraged to contribute to the good of the community.
Is such a vision unrealistic or naïve? Is it not worth aiming for? Is it worth investing time to try and achieve?
The Bible gives us a vision of the future. In the last chapter of the Bible, we read, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
This vision of the future has encouraged Christ-followers down through the centuries to pray, as Jesus taught us, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). This image of the future has motivated Christ-followers to strive to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
What 2011 holds for us, we do not know. With climate change, the threat of terrorism and powerful global forces shaping our economy, it is easy to feel helpless. It is perhaps timely with the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in a few months’ time, to remember something memorable his great-grandfather once said.
On December 25th 1939, as citizens of the British Empire faced a world war, King George VI resurrected a tradition his father launched: an annual Christmas message to all the inhabitants of the Empire. In this excerpt from his speech, the King, not usually a compelling speaker, inspired and reassured his listeners by quoting a poem: “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.'”
May you place your hand in the hand of God this coming year. May God give you a vision of the future that will last all year and beyond. May God give you the strength and perseverance to discover and do his perfect will. And in doing so, may God bless you and those you love in 2011.