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5/23/10 Sermon: Visions and Dreams -- Cheryl Pyrch 5/23/10 Sermon: Visions and Dreams -- Cheryl Pyrch

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   Discussion: 5/23/10 Sermon: Visions and Dreams -- Cheryl Pyrch
Chelsea Badeau · 9 years, 10 months ago

Cheryl Pyrch

Summit Presbyterian Church

May 23, 2010

Acts 2: 1-21, Pentecost


Visions and Dreams


            One question that we often ask children is, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”   This is considered a perfectly polite question, for we assume every child has an answer --  that they have a dream or a vision of their life as a grown-up.  And they usually do.  They may answer by naming a career – a teacher, doctor, helicopter pilot.   They may say they want to be a mommy or daddy, a princess or pro football player.  Their answers are shaped by class and family circumstances, but we encourage all children to think big, to have a dream and work towards it.  Indeed much of what we try to do as teachers or parents is to equip children to follow their dream, to fulfill their potential, to achieve.   And it's not only children who dream.  We adults have dreams, too. Perhaps we've stopped dreaming about a new career or having children, but instead we have a dream vacation, a dream kitchen, a dream relationship, a dream for retirement.  Those dreams can be wonderful, even generous - we may dream of helping others, or we may have dreams for our children or grandchildren.   But whether big or small, deep or shallow, altruistic or not, these dreams tend to be about ourselves or our loved ones.    We may have dreams for the world, too, but for most of us - there are exceptions -  those visions are less detailed and we think about them less.  We try and do good and follow Jesus but few of us center our lives around a world vision.  Following our own dreams seems challenge enough; we haven't been raised or encouraged to think globally.   It's been said over and over  but it's worth repeating:  we're an individualistic society.  And it shows in our visions and dreams.




          On the day of Pentecost  - Luke tells us - the disciples were all together in one place (not in their own living rooms, in front of their own computers).   There was the 12,  including Mathias who had replaced Judas, and possibly the women disciples and brothers of Jesus.   And suddenly from heaven their came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and on everyone a a tongue rested.   And all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them ability.  At this sound a crowd gathered -- a crowd of devout Jews from every nation under heaven, and they each heard in their own language:  the Parthians heard what was spoken in Parthia,  Phrygians heard in whatever language was spoken in Phrygia, and so on. The crowd was amazed.  The people looked at each other and said.  :  what does this mean?  But some sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."  {I never got that -- why the skeptics would think that drinking could lead you to speak a new language  -- until  . . . ]


           So Peter speaks up.  What you're seeing, he says, is what God spoke about through the prophet Joel:  the time when God would come and redeem God's people, bring justice throughout the world, and pour out God's Spirit on all flesh; when old men would dream dreams, and young men would see visions,  and sons and daughters would prophesy, and everyone who called on the name of the Lord would be saved.   Peter goes on to tell the crowd of Jesus of Nazareth, his crucifixion and resurrection.  He tells them about the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, and how God promises the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who are baptized.  Luke says that Peter testified with many arguments and exhortations and that he was so convincing about three thousand people were baptized that day.  


         So we hear Peter's sermon, his proclamation of good news in Jesus Christ, and his insistence that the Holy Spirit is at work in this outpouring by the disciples.  But we don't know what the other disciples SAID in all those  languages, what they said to those from every nation under heaven.    Luke says they spoke of God's deeds of power; they weren't speaking of their personal dreams or visions but of what they saw God doing in the world:  in God's justice, and forgiveness, and redemption for all people.  And it's just as well we don't have their exact words --  for they they would not have been able to capture everything that the Spirit was saying through them, and we might have tried to make them timeless words for all people to be taken at face value.  We might have stopped listening for the Spirit to speak through us.  But it's still speaking -- or speakin' - as my stole that is missing a g says -  and we need to listen.


         Under the guidance of our capital campaign consultant, the Renewal committee has been working on the draft of a "vision statement" for the church, to use in the brochures and website and other literature for the stewardship campaign.  This statement will be a vision of the mission and ministry of the church over the next 5 years or so, and will be grounded in the mission statement but a bit more specific and anchored in this moment of our history.  It will lift up why we're doing the campaign -- to fulfill our vision for the mission and ministry of this church, for which we need the new roof --  the new roof itself not being the point.  So we've been drawing on the mission study you did to call me, and potluck discussions and leadership retreats and asking for input from boards and committees, so we can craft a vision statement that speaks for the church and which we hope is inspired by the Holy Spirit.


         And I must say, we've been struggling.  Asking for money is going to be the easy after this.  We've been struggling because it's hard to write anything by committee.  Anyone who's done it knows what I mean.  We're struggling because we're not used to thinking collectively; we each see our own piece best.    But mainly we're struggling because visions just don't lend themselves to vision statements.  Don't get me wrong - this vision statement is important and will be helpful.  But our vision of God's will for the church in the next five years,  inspired - we hope - by the Holy Spirit, is much broader, deeper, messier, and exciting than any statement  we'll come up with for the campaign.  That's fine -- we just need to remember that our vision statement will only point us toward the vision and dream to which God is calling us.


         So our vision statement might say: "provide a nurting and safe environment in which young people can learn more about Jesus,"  But our vision might be something like:


That as children learn the stories of Jesus, and pray and sing together, they'll feel his love, and have someone to bring their worries to, especially if they don't have love at home, or if they're burdened by many worries.  Our that our youth, who are now faced with so many choices and so many confusing messages about their future, may hear the call to love God and neighbor above the call to acquire more things, to get into the best college, or to escape those pressures through alcohol or drugs.  A vision we have for all young people, everywhere.


Or our vision statement might say something like "increase our support of community groups helping people in need, like the Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry"   But our vision might be that we will work for the upbuilding of God's kingdom, where no one has to worry about having enough food at the end of the month, or a safe place to call home, or medical care when they're sick.   


         Or vision statement might say:  provide a welcoming supportive home for the spiritual growth and fellowship for everyong wishing to participate in our worshipping community; but our vision might be more like:


         In a world where from the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep we're told to be disatisfied with what we have and to want more and better,  we will offer praise and thanksgiving to God, and learn to live a life shaped by gratitude rather than greed.  Or ---in a world where so many of us are burdened by guilt and shame we can't find joy in their lives, at worship we'll proclaim and hear of forgiveness through Christ, and find our lives renewed.  Or -- in a world where we think mostly about ourselves, we'll pray and learn to care for people across the world, and for all creation.    And of course, we will invite neighbors and friends to join us.


And neighbors and friends will want to join us because however wonderful our private dreams or our visions of our life might be, they are nothing compared to the vision of a world transformed through the love of God in Jesus Christ.  A world where people from every nation under heaven, of every faith and culture, will live together in peace, caring for one another and God's creation.  A vision that the Holy Spirit calls us to make our own.


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