The week before Thanksgiving I was privileged to attend a breakfast gathering hosted by the Westchester Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. I had attended this event several times before, but this year was different. A program begun by this congregation was being recognized for the work it does. The program brings together high school students from different faith traditions – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, even unaffiliated youth. The goal of the program is to provide a setting in which students can learn with and from each other and serve the communities of which we are a part. While so many others do so much of the work to make this program impactful, I was given the honor of accepting the recognition and expressing our thanks.
As I stood at the podium that morning I took a moment to look around the room. The room was filled with people who day-in and day-out do their level best to make the communities in which we live more welcoming and more tolerant, and who do what they can to help all of us be more understanding of each other. A room full of people, who give time and energy and money… and the best of themselves…to help children learn. And to help families stay together. And to strengthen communities. And to add what hope they can to what sometimes feels like hopeless situations and circumstances. As I stood at the podium that morning and looked around the room I realized I was looking at a room full of dreamers.
Given the way the world is portrayed in the headlines which scroll across our social media feeds or which we see on the evening news, being a dreamer can sometimes be pretty lonely.
Not everyone else sees what you see.
Sometimes no one else sees what you see.
Yet, to you, both the need and the solution, is so crystal clear.
But, dreams are rarely practical.
And they are never easy.
And, if they move forward at all they only do so at a snail’s pace and with a great force of will.
And, yet that morning, there I was.
In a room full of dreamers.
A room full of other people, who like me, had caught a glimpse of that something more or something better for each of us and for the communities in which we live and the world entrusted to our care and keeping, and who were bound and determined to make their part of that unbelievable dream come true.
By this point, you are probably sitting there wondering what in the world all that has to do with Christmas. This, I think.
However you hear and understand the Christmas story in the Bible…
Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, Magi following a wondrous star.
At the heart of the story stand two unbelievable dreams.
The first dream is that, in this story about the birth of Jesus which we remember and retell on this night, we are told that rather than God above us or God beyond us or, God as some divine puppeteer or cosmic judge the reality is God with us.
God. Here. Now.
Just as you are.
Just where you are.
And, that however you think about or imagine or describe that which we know and name as God…the unbelievable dream of Christmas is that Something More is now somehow wrapped up in your very ordinary, very human, everyday life which means that your life is far from ordinary. If the Bible is correct and if the promise of Christmas is true…
Then, in a hundred different ways each and every day…
You can be and are to be God to another.
You can be and are to be grace to another.
And, hope to another.
And, compassion to another.
And, forgiveness to another.
At least, that’s the dream.
And the second unbelievable dream is incredible proclamation the angels made to the shepherds…Peace on Earth. Hard to believe in peace with all the recent headlines in the news, isn’t it? Do you want me or need me to list some of those headlines for you? I didn’t think so.
Yet, there it is. Peace on Earth.
God’s grand dream for you and for me. God’s grand dream for us and for all.
But, as I said, dreaming is often a lonely business.
Maybe even most of the time…
It is almost impossible to see how you get from where we are to what you see and so it is becomes easier to write it off as just a daydream or merely wishful thinking rather than real possibility. God’s dream planted in your heart, mind and soul.
But, after all it is Christmas.
Look around you for a moment.
Or, close your eyes and sense the others around you.
Like it was for me a month ago.
Here we are.
On Christmas Eve.
Here you are.
In a room full of dreamers.
Believing, at least for a moment, that dreams can come true.
After all, it is Christmas.