by Spencer Burke, Executive Director, Hatchery LA

I recently met up with Brian McLaren, long-time friend of the Pacific Southwest Region, to learn about his new book, The Great Spiritual Migration. While some people are lamenting the decline in church attendance and membership, Brian has a different view. He believes people are not “leaving the church” but rather are migrating from one expression of the Good News to another. He highlights how movements of God are connecting with institutions and it’s this combination that is a very hopeful aspect of the migration. Another hopeful and beautiful element of the great spiritual migration is they way it is opening up opportunities for millennials to join and to lead for the next generation. 

Listen in on our conversation to hear more about how Brian thinks the Disciples of Christ – and especially our region with the Hatchery LA initiatives – is uniquely positioned to help our world migrate to a place of spiritual belonging.

Posted
AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt

By Don and Susan Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers

“Do you believe every person on earth was born with a dream for his or her life?” This is the question that Bruce Wilkerson poses in the preface of his book, The Dream Giver. Wilkerson then goes on to answer his own question; he says, “I have yet to find a person who didn’t have a dream. They may not be able to describe it. They may have forgotten it. They may no longer believe in it. But it’s there.” He says, “I call this universal and powerful longing a Big Dream. Like the genetic code that describes your unique passions and abilities, your Big Dream has been woven into your being from birth. You’re the only person with a dream quite like yours. And you have it for a reason: to draw you toward the kind of life you were born to love!”

Dreams can inspire and challenge us. They can lift us up to a higher calling or disturb us from a business as usual attitude.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, I have a dream speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. August 28th 1963 amidst the civil rights movement is one such dream.

He said, “I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

Dreams and visions are essential to human existence. Without it there can be no growth in either our personal or group life, including the church. In fact our scriptures remind us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18)

To envision or to dream is the act of imagining something not yet in existence. I believe we all have dreams. It expresses itself in our ambition, our motivation, even our faith.

It should not surprise us that dreaming should come so naturally, since we are made in the image of the One whom we also understand to be a dreamer. A study of the scriptures reveals that God has a vision of how the world shall be, but is not yet.

In his book “We Make the Road by Walking,” Brian McLaren writes:

“To be alive is to desire, to hope, and to dream, and the Bible is a book about desires, hopes and dreams. The story begins with God’s desire for a good and beautiful world, of which we are a part. Soon, some of us desire the power to kill, enslave, or oppress others. Enslaved and oppressed people hope for liberation. Wilderness wanderers desire a promised land where they can settle. Settled people dream of a promised time when they won’t be torn apart by internal factions, ruled by corrupt elites, or dominated by stronger nations nearby.

Desires, hopes, and dreams inspire action, and that’s what makes them so different from a wish.”

Throughout the biblical record, God is portrayed as One who has a dream of how the intended order of creation, broken by the sin of humankind, can be restored. But God is not content to merely image how the world shall be. God has been at work throughout history seeking to bring this dream into reality.

In the beginning, God used Abraham & Sarah, then Moses & Miriam, then the prophets, and finally God spoke through Jesus of Nazareth to communicate this mission. And the mission continued, through Jesus to his disciples and followers, and now through us.

What is the nature of this vision God has? According to the prophet Isaiah, God envisions all creation as one, with every person living in harmony with the purposes of the Creator and in community with one another, seeking the joy and well being of every other.

Today there seems to be so much brokenness in our world. Our communities are polarized, our political system seems bent on oppressing the most vulnerable in our society, fear has reached and all time high towards “the other” and so many just wish we could just wake up from this bad dream.

In 1971 John Lennon, former Beatle, wrote a song entitled “Imagine” where he shared his dream for the world. He wrote:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger,
a brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people
sharing all the world.
You may say I am a dreamer. 
But, I am not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us
and the world will live as one.
                   

God’s dream for the world is one of wholeness (salvation) for all creation. Through the events of our daily lives God is at work actualizing this dream. But what astounds me most is that God has called us (you and me) to claim this dream as our own and to become partners with God in this divine task. Paul says in Philippians, “I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the day of Christ Jesus.” We are to be God’s dream-bearers. We are called to actively engage in bringing God’s dream into being.

When asked what he would do if he knew the world was going to end tomorrow, Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, said, “I’d go out and plant a tree.” Wishing is a substitute for action. In contrast, our desires, hopes and dreams for the future guide our actions.

Pope Frances challenges us by saying, “Our duty is to continue to insist, in the present international context, that the human person and human dignity are not simply catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatic or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences. In this regard, there is a need to oppose the shortsighted economic interests and the mentality of power of a relative few who exclude the majority of the world’s peoples, generating poverty and marginalization and causing a breakdown in society. There is likewise a need to combat the corruption which creates privileges for some and injustices for many others.”

Our call to action is to resist evil, stand up for the vulnerable, speak out for the voiceless and cast out all fear with genuine love. In addition we are called to care for all creation because our hope is in a God who redeems. We believe in a mighty Creator with profound love for all of creation.

Echoing the words of Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, “My prayer is that we in the Episcopal Church will, in this and all things, follow the way, the teachings, and the Spirit of Jesus by cultivating a loving, liberating, and life-giving relationship with God, all others in the human family, and with all of God’s good creation.”

To be alive in the way of Jesus is to have a desire, a dream, a hope for the future. Let us continue to live into God’s desire, dream and hope for our world.

Together on the journey,

Don and Susan
Co-Regional Ministers, PSWR

 

 

 

Posted
AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt