This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, June 1, 2014. What follows below is the outline used for the sermon.
Reading: Genesis 37:2-36
Over the four weeks, we have been studying and reading together the book of Genesis. To summarize the past four weeks and to summarize the first 36 chapters of the book of Genesis one could say:
This week, we move into the narrative of Joseph. It’s the last epic story in the book of Genesis.
Joseph was the great-great-grandson of Abraham. He was the youngest of Jacob’s (Israel’s) twelve sons. And, he wasn’t afraid to risk sharing his dreams.
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear so that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to also live your Word in the world starting today. It’s in your son’s name we pray. Amen.
It has been nearly two years. At the beginning of my time among you, we sat down together in groups of roughly seven people to discuss our dreams for the church. Many of you participated in those meetings. We met in my office and shared what we perceived to be God’s great dream for Wesley Church.
The recurring dream—the ones expressed over multiple groups—went something like this:
We believe God wants our community of faith to be a vibrant, growing church that reaches out to the entire Culver Community—including the Academy. We want to be reaching more youth and children such that they fill the sanctuary and grow closer to God. But, we need not just attract youth, we need to integrate them and allow them to be an active part of the church. We need to be attentive to the needs of the community, especially young families, and respond for Christ’s sake. People need to feel more welcomed.
This was the dream you shared nearly two years ago. Sure, there was a lot more said, but this was the recurring dream shared across many of the 14 groups who dared to dream together.
In the beginning,
we shared our dreams
and I wish I would have held that dream out before us more.
When Stephen Suthard, the local high school student was shot, was murdered and people questioned whether or not we should open our doors to the students for a prayer vigil and funeral, I wish I would have held the dream out before you to say this is what its all about!
When we couldn’t find enough Sunday School teachers and had to cancel the program, I wish I would have held your shared dream before you.
When we struggled to have enough volunteers to run Vacation Bible School, the first in several years, which hosted some 20 students each night, I wish I would have reminded you of your dream.
When, in the first year, only four volunteers helped hand out hot dogs to trick-or-treaters, I wish I would have asked if the dream was still a dream.
When we started Kids Church, and people didn’t understand why we’d offer such a different option, I wish I would have held the dream up.
When we restructured the administrative committees of the church, I wish I would have reminded you it wasn’t done to give power to a few, but was done to better empower the congregation to be in ministry with the community instead of being in committee meetings all the time.
I wish I would have held out the dream God had planted in you from the beginning when we first shared our dreams because when achieving the dream gets difficult we need to be reminded of it. When the risks of sharing our dreams become real, we need to be reminded of the visions we had from the start so that we might recommit to making the dream come true.
Joseph took a risk in sharing his dreams with his brothers. And, I can’t help but think that he, like us, needed to be reminded when the going got tough—when we found himself in the pit, when he found himself in slavery, when we found himself in prison for a crime he did not commit—that the dream God planted in him from the beginning would come true.
There is an inherent risk in sharing our dreams; which is exactly why we need to remind each other of the dreams we share. For its only by being reminded of our dreams that we’ll be able—when the going gets tough—to recommit to our dreams and live them out. We’ll talk more about that next week.