Year A, Advent 4
It’s the last Sunday before we celebrate Christmas. Our hopes and dreams lead us up to the feast day. Isaiah prophesies the hope of a special child. The psalmist sings, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (80:3). Paul sends greetings of hope and assurance of grace to the church in Rome. Matthew tells the story of Joseph’s dream which pulls him out of shame and secrecy into the light and truth of God’s hope.
Children are hoping and dreaming about Christmas gifts, stockings with treats, special family Christmas traditions and foods. Maybe adults are doing some Christmas dreaming as well….about the family and friends that will gather together, about seeing parents or grandparents or welcoming adult children home for the holidays. This past Sunday one of my ministerial colleagues asked the children at children’s time what they were hoping/dreaming to get at Christmas this year. After a recitation of dolls and Pokemon toys and a microscope and a robot, he asked them what they thought the church was hoping/dreaming to get for Christmas. They were a bit speechless…I thought someone might say, “the baby, Jesus.” Then he went on to say that every year the church asks for and dreams about the same gifts from God, the Advent gifts of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
As you lead your people and teach your children on this last Sunday of Advent, may you all be blessed with dreams of God’s Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. May you be given visions of how and where these dreams are already made manifest among you. May you be inspired with visions of how and where you are being led to co-create these dreams of God for all God’s people in the coming year.
Here are some stories and poems that I hope will help you dream together.
- The Dreaming Tree – a folk tale from Brazil
- The Peddler of Swaffham – a folktale from England
- A Dreamer’s Tale – a folktale from Germany
- The Sun – a poem by Mary Oliver for the winter solstice about the everyday miracle of sunrise from New and and Selected Poems, Volume One, 1992.
And I leave you with this poem by the British poet, U.A. Fanthorpe, words and images for the turning of Advent into Christmas.
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Blessings on your Advent story journey,
©Jane Anne Ferguson, 2016 and beyond. Commentary and photos may be reprinted only with permission. Please tell the stories!