Christmas started with a dream / God’s dream for you and me / Yule not find it ‘neath a tree / This dream for me and thee / Not in the stores, nor in the malls / Nor in the things of earth / The dream was meant for human heart / The birth of Christ: a Start!
God is a dreamer.
You might think that’s kind of strange. Some would argue that God is like a clock maker who made the universe, set it in motion, and left. Theologians tell us that God is omniscient: God knows all; or God has a plan: As in a game of chess, God moves us piece-like around the board, and when all is said and done: Checkmate (or Armageddon).
But that’s not God. When you read the scriptures, you see that God is less an architect, and more an artist. I mean, listen to the creation story:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. The breath of God blew gently over the face of the waters …” (Genesis 1, NKJV)
That’s not the picture of an engineer looking over a set of blueprints to ascertain the structural integrity of a project. That’s the picture of an artist, working with a fresh canvass.
She looks it over, and taking a deep breath she dips her brush into the oils and begins to apply more than colors; she applies her very soul to the canvass one stroke at a time.
“In the beginning God …” is the story of an artist – a dreamer – at work.
God prepared this magnificent jewel orbiting the sun, a glorious planet with clean water, fertile land, and lush vegetation. Living creatures of every shape and size were present. Birds sang the sun up in the morning, and crickets sang the sun down at night. There were no endangered species. There were landmasses, pounding oceans, fresh-water lakes, life-sustaining rivers and streams.
It must have taken God’s breath away the first time he stepped back to survey this wonderful work in progress. One of the most mesmerizing pictures of the late 20th Century is that photograph of the earth rising above the surface of the moon; Earthrise, they call it.
You can almost picture the angels crowding around, noses pressed against the studio glass in hushed silence, watching God at work.
What did God create?
God created a magnificent habitat for all – a Dream house. God gave us a place to call home. That was his dream. That was his vision: to create a place where all could live in harmony with God, creation, and one another; where lion and lamb would frolic by day; where child and adder could cuddle by night.
It didn’t last long, of course. Wanting to be “like gods” we destroyed God’s dream house, trashing the environment, hunting majestic creatures into extinction, and our favorite past-time, waging war against all comers. God’s dream was shattered, like a tacky leg lamp crumpled beyond repair.
Many of our dreams lie shattered too. Pink slips are handed out at Christmas parties – shattering dreams; loved ones are killed by drunk drivers – shattering dreams; men in uniform quietly arrive on the front porch to deliver sad news from overseas – shattering dreams. For everything there is a season, but in every season: shattered dreams.
What is God to do?
Closing his eyes, God stretches out a new canvass; God begins to paint – a new hope and a new dream. He starts with a baby in a manger in a Podunk town in a dustbin land. We can’t see it of course, but God can.
Lying there in manger rude / the child of God is born / and giving birth to hope and peace / he’s here on Christmas morn / and if we deign to shut our eyes / we’ll feel the oils applied / upon the canvass of our lives – these lives for which he died. / So come, ye faithful, raise the strain / for Christ is born – that peace o’er us may reign!