The Rev. Gary Braun
Little kids dream big dreams…dreams about what they will be when they
grow up, dreams about how they want to make a difference. Big dreams!
When I was the littlest, I dreamt of being a dog: wouldn’t have to go to
school any more and could just run and play all day long. I felt like I
got gypped. That dream became a dream to be a fireman, to rush into
burning buildings to save fair damsels in distress.
Little kids dream big dreams, don’t they? But they are not the only
ones. For you see, God dreams too. God has a dream, and, my friends, it
is a big dream. It is the dream God dreams for us, and for our world.
And it is a worthy dream.
It was a dream that was so important to God that there would be raised
up holy men and women, kings and prophets, who would tell us of the
dream. And when we did not listen, when we did not understand, so
passionately did God dream the God took that dream and wrapped it in
flesh and blood and let the dream live among us, so we could see it!
Hear it! Touch it! Smell it! Taste it! That dream was lived among us
in Jesus of Nazereth. Jesus dreamt that dream himself. It was his life,
his passion. It is what he lived for and, in the end, it is what he died
What is this dream that Jesus lived for and died for? What is God’s
dream for our world? In the words of Jesus on the night before he died:
that all may be One. That “we, though many, be one…” “As the Father and
I are One, so might they be one in us.” God’s dream is that we be One.
It is about our connectedness in love. It is the truth that everything
and everybody touches everything and everybody. It is the most holy
This unity is no easy task. Like Jacob in the first reading this
morning, wrestling within his own personal dreams to take on God’s dream
and wounded in the wrestling. Jacob limped the rest of his life. If
we let it matter, we too will walk away wounded. Yet, it is worth it,
for this is a worthy dream. It is worth our lives. This unity is not of
our making. We don’t create this. It is pure gift that began in the
beginning…in the very beginning! It goes back some 15 billon years when
there was just this singularity–before any differentiation. Every atom
and cell of our bodies longs for that unity again. Ours is only to get
out of the way, get our pride and ego and fear out of the way. And
welcome it. This unity is not something we have to impose on reality.
Jesus died for the dream, he did not kill for it! This unity has
nothing to do with uniformity of ideas or behaviors. It is ok if we
disagree. Oh, there is Truth! But there is no truth without love! The
greatest truth is not in our separateness, but in our oneness; not our
differences, but our love.
Different peoples have different names for the dream. Jesus called it
the Kingdom of God. By whatever names, what matters is that we all want
the same thing. That we want it more than we want anything in the world.
We have to feel it or else the sacrifices it demands will seem
altogether too much. We’ll start counting the cost. We’ll start to
complain about the “limp.”
The most important decision for me is this: I will not let anything in
me or around me get in the way of the dream coming true. I will do my
best to piggy-back all my personal dreams on the dream of God. It will
affect how I vote on November 2nd and how I talk with you every day. How
I spend my money, where I use my time, and how I share my abilities.
Can we trust the dream still? Is it still possible to believe that we
can be One? In a post 9/11 world, in a world in which it seems that
people have become so cruel to one another, where terror kidnaps our
attention every day, when everyone— a church— so terribly
polarized and where people can get so mean sometimes, where promises are
broken and grudges hoarded like pennies in a penny drawer. Like a prison
flower, the dream is alive and it is coming true! Make no mistake about
it, my friends, like a prison flower it grows. It is alive still! Look
around you here: Missouri in the heart of D.C., a Catholic priest
preaching at an Episcopalian cathedral with a Presbyterian choir,
gathered with people from many nations and all different faiths and
none! It is coming true right here.
Today is Missouri Day at the National Cathedral. Missouri brings unique
gifts to our nation’s table. At the very founding of our state, we were
created out of a willingness to work together, to negotiate in what is
called the Missouri Compromise. We are in the middle of the middle:
north and south and east and west converge just there. Our mighty rivers
connect the nation with itself. The great exploration of 200 years ago
now—Lewis and Clark—with all its even unknown obstacles, began there.
But, whatever makes us Missourians unique, or even good or maybe great,
is not so that others see that and know that. It is rather only so that
we can be at the service of this dream. It matters for nothing else.
What’s more, I would say that of this nation. If the U.S. is great, that
greatness is a collective yawn to God unless all our greatness and
wealth and skill and success—all of it, everything!—is at the service of
lifting up and connecting every human being of the earth, one with
another in love. What’s more, I’d say the same about our church. I am
not a Catholic Christian or you an Episcopalian Christian or you a
Muslim or Hindu or Jew for its own sake, but so that I can fall through
all that into the dream God has for the world. I’m not a man who is a
good Catholic. I am Catholic so that I can be a good human being. I hope
to God our faiths make us more capable of that! Or they are for
God is poking at us in this gospel parable. We are the judge “who
respected not other human beings,” and God is like the widow, who just
wouldn’t let go.The widow God is poking at us, prodding us to get on
with it, to dream the world Jesus lived for and died for, and to realize
it in every choice. The dream will not go away! It will persist! God
will not give up on it. Neither can we! For not even death, and
certainly not the worst evil, will ever stop it.
When you see love anywhere, get down on your knees because it is a sign
that the dream is coming true. When you stumble across division and
disunity still, decide then and there to lay down your life until that
oneness God dreamed is realized.
Somebody gave me a dream catcher recently (shows dream catcher). I didn’t have the
nerve to tell them that I already have one. It’s right up there! (points
to the cross above) Our dream catcher is the cross of Jesus.
There is a story of a new religion teacher for preschool children who
had planned to end her first class with the exercise: “here’s the
church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people”
having all the children join in. But just as class was about to begin,
the principal came to the door to tell her that another little girl
would be joining her class, and this little girl had just one arm. The
teacher wished she could have prepared the class so that they would not
embarrass the little girl, but she welcomed her into the class. As the
class was ending, she led the kids in that little exercise: “here’s the
church, here’s …” And then it dawned on her that she had done the very
thing she was afraid one of the kids would do to that little girl with
one arm, and put her in an impossible situation. When she looked up,
though, what she saw was a little boy from the next row go over to the
little girl, and he gave her his right hand, and together they made the
church and the steeple and the people.
Little kids dream big dreams. So does God.