I got put on hold yesterday while waiting for a reply from the book section of Catholic Supply. Thinking that it was a Catholic store, attuned to the rhythm of Advent, I thought I might hear some Gregorian chant or perhaps the “O-Antiphons” or something liturgically appropriate. Instead, I hear the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby singing: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” (Hold fingers as if they were the phone handset, looking at them at arm’s length: Really – that’s the best you got?)
It’s not a bad song. Dreaming of the place “where the tree tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow” – what is not to like about that. And it got me to thinking – how about you and me – what do we dream of this time of year?
It’s the first time since the loss of a loved one – so the dream is for some laughter and not too many tears on Christmas day.
Others dream of health for a family member; or maybe that this year, we all get along.
Some dream of getting everything done & still having time for fun with people we love.
Today’s scriptures tell me, if that is all I dream, my dream is too small. Our readings speak of a BIG dream: That every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. That the AGE OLD depths and gorges be filled to level ground. That exiles be empowered to return home. That ALL shall see the Salvation of God. Hearing that dream makes me wonder if one of the reasons that Christmas often feels so empty, that people wonder: “Is that all there is?” or: “Wasn’t something more supposed to happen?” is because we hadn’t joined our dream to the dream in the heart of God. Or another way to say it: “If our dream stops at our front door, it is too small.”
While WE dream of a White Christmas …
GOD dreams of a Christmas where spouses aren’t battered … where children aren’t abused … where aging grandparents aren’t abandoned in nursing homes.
While WE dream of Chestnuts roasting on open fires and getting our cards out on time
GOD dreams of a time when nations stop stockpiling nerve gas or nuclear weapons, when prisoners are no longer tortured, and we “study war no more.”
While WE dream of a lovely family meal …
GOD dreams of a day when thousands of children won’t starve to death in sub-Saharan Africa, when refugee camps are empty, and where everyone has access to the abundance this world supplies.
The scriptures the first two weeks of Advent are never about the birth of the savior, nor about our own personal Christmas preparations, but about the end of time, and the dream God has that includes every living thing … this planet, and every person of every race, language, or way of life. Advent is about letting God’s dream burn in our hearts
So whether you choose to listen to Christmas carols or they are inflicted upon you from the speakers in the store, I suspect from time to time these next few weeks we might hear Bing Crosby crooning: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”.
Whenever we do so, may it give you pause to step back and ask the first question: “What am I/are we dreaming of?” And then take a second step back and ask: “Is my/our dream big enough for God?”