Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sermon Excerpt

Excerpt from a Sermon I did today on dreams -

About a month ago, we celebrated the birth of our Savior Jesus. One of the events surrounding his birth which greatly interests me is the arrival of the 3 Wise Men. According to the Gospel of Matthew, these 3 were led to Jesus by Astronomical signs, the most famous of which is the Star of Bethlehem, which ultimately led them to Jesus. There is a great deal of discussion as to where these 3 came from. In my studies, I have heard such theories as Persia, Arabia, Greece, India, and even from as far away as China.

Regardless of where these Wise Men came from, it is important to point out that they each were traveling for many weeks, or even months before Jesus was born. Imagine traveling in that time period. Travel was predominately by foot or camel in the western Mediterranean. Progress would have been slow, during such a journey. For example, over a thousand years later, when travel throughout Asia was arguably easier, another traveler by the name of Marco Polo took 3 and a half years to travel from Venice, Italy to China.

The point that I am trying to make with this example is that these 3 wise men were following a dream – they had a goal – a goal to meet and honor Jesus. A dream that they had been following for a quite a while. Dreams are important in life. We all want to make a difference in the world, and dreams are an important aspect of achieving that. Imagine the story of Jesus’ birth without the Wise Men – no gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. King Herrod also initially learned of Jesus through the Wise Men.

Often, though, when we dream, we say “Well, that’s a nice dream, but I can’t aspire to achieve it because of XYZ reason”. How often have you heard that line? I know I have certainly heard it a fair amount in my life. Apparently, many Christians believe that their dreams are unreachable, even with help from God. They believe that they cannot achieve their dreams because they are not intelligent enough, or eloquent, or rich or whatever.

But let’s take a look at Moses for a moment. Here is a man who, when God came to him, felt that he was unprepared to handle the responsibility of leading God’s people out of Egypt. He says “Who am I?”. Indeed, who was Moses at that point? An orphan? A shepherd? He certainly had to wonder about God’s plan for him, didn’t he? Yet, God reassures him saying” I will be with you”. Ultimately, it was Moses’ Faith and Hope that allowed God’ vision, and Moses’ dream, to come true.

Jesus himself talked about having hope and about never giving up on dreams. In Luke, he related the parable about the woman who would not give up. She continued trying until finally she convinced the judge that she was right. This lesson stresses the importance of persistence and perseverance while striving for our dreams. Jesus never says that the path to reach a dream is easy. In fact, Paul says in his letter to the Romans, that essentially it is the pursuit of goals, and the strivings and sufferings thus, that produce character, and with character, hope.

Recently, we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr, day, and I think it is fitting to mention his name as well, while discussing reaching for a dream. In his short lifetime, he had been assaulted, dismissed, thrown into jail, and ironically, in his own words “thrown out of jail”, all before his famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech, in which he speaks the immortal words “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’”. It is Rev. King’s faith in God that gives him strength to pursue his goal, and that strength gives him character which, in turn, gives him hope, hope that gives him strength to continue pursuing his goal. In his “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech, Dr. King relates that “He just wants to do God’s will”.

On a lighter note, there is the story of Larry Walters. Larry, like most of us, had a dream. For as long as he could remember, he wanted to fly. As he grew up, he developed some eyesight problems. These problems prevented him from enlisting in the US Air Force, sadly. Many of us probably would have stopped there, and allowed their dreams to die. Larry thought about flying lessons, but sadly could not afford those either. So after many years of pondering, Larry found a solution to his dilemma. One day in 1982, he was soaring with the eagles over Los Angeles – by tying 45 weather balloons to a lawn chair. He soared up to about 15,000 feet in elevation- thus fulfilling his dream of flight.

Robert Fulghum writes in his book “All I ever needed to know I learned in Kindergarten” that “The human race sits in its chair. On the one hand is the message that the human situation is hopeless…and that there is nothing left to do, and no dreams worth dreaming.” One the other hand, there are the Larry Walters’ of the world, busy tying balloons to lawn chairs, directed by dreams and imagination to do their thing.

So as you leave here today, remember to embrace your dream, regardless of what obstacles are set in the way. As Moses and the woman in Jesus’ parable teach us, there is nothing special required to fulfill your dreams, save for God’s love, and some old fashioned perseverance. Dr. King shows us that although sometimes hardships befall us, but we must not lose sight of our dreams, even if it takes years to achieve. We learn that although life may give us obstacles in our path, we can always find a way to fulfill our dreams. Like the 3 wise men, go out and seek your Star of Bethlehem, and reach for it continually, for like Moses, we don’t know what God has planned for us, until He reveals it.

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