“Like those who dream…”

I have some weird nighttime dreams. Many of them recur in various shapes and sizes. While they might be interesting to explore I’m more interested in the daytime dreams we have.

By definition daytime dreams are experiences of short-term detachment from immediate surroundings, during which a person’s contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a vision of an alternate reality. Doesn’t this sound like your faith journey? As people of faith the grace of God calls us to detach, temporarily, from the “reality” of the moment, often difficult, painful, and isolated. God beckons us toward a better life, a life of love, compassion and connection. In our faith, as in a daytime dream, we are nudged toward intentionally blurring the present reality, giving way to a vision of an alternate reality, a life in God, a place of renewal and redemption.

The Poet/Prophet/Psalmist in Psalm 126 sings of this reality…

126 1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when GOD returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“Look what God has done!”

4-6 And now, GOD, do it again—
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

“We were like those who dream…”

What are your daytime dreams like these days? Can you see the better day that God is drawing you toward? If only we had that crystal ball, right?

There are a number of ways to understand God’s nudging grace at work in us… one is individually. Another is in community.

Parkrose UMC has always been a neighborhood church. Born in the 1950’s, the church sprouted, or rather exploded, with the neighborhood full of small homes just right for the hundreds of young families riding the wave of post-WWII prosperity and endless hope. Within a couple decades however that explosion tapered, disappeared and has been replaced by a transitional community of low-income, highly diverse families. Many of our neighbors are recent refugees of the gentrification and out-of-control housing costs of inner NE Portland. As long as we’re situated in this Parkrose neighborhood, we will be a neighborhood church.

Being a good neighbor means allowing ourselves to do some daytime dreaming… detaching long enough from frightful realities to imagine alternate futures. Our neighborhood has changed… and so must we. For the past decade we have been experimenting with what it means to BE the church in our neighborhood. And have found some success:

  • Summer Music and Drama Camp – every year for the past 9 years we have hosted children from our neighborhood and beyond in a week of self-confident raising, spirit generating, community building fun through music and acting. “Look what God has done!”
  • Parkrose Heights Community Garden – About the time of the sprouting of Music and Drama Camp we planted our first summer garden with a dozen neighbors and “hands-in-the-dirt spirituality”. “Look what God has done!”
  • Neighborhood Food Pantry – for a few years now we’ve been connecting with our neighbors through food and a partnership with the Oregon Food Bank. It’s more than food, however, building relationships of caring and prayer has connected us with our neighbors a healthy, hopeful way.

But what now? Or as the Psalmist sings… “And now, God, do it again!”

Experimentation is the way of the 21st century faith community. God is calling us to Experiment with ways to be the church through spiritual practices of worship, prayer, service, and community building. To do that we need only follow God’s day-dream.

See you on the path.

Peace – Bill