Have you had any interesting dreams lately? There is a whole field of study around dream interpretation. In fact, it is a very important part of our biblical, faith tradition.
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, God communicates to humanity through dreams and the Christmas story is no exception. Not only does Joseph have two dreams–directing him to stand by Mary and then to ensure the safety of Jesus by fleeing to Egypt–the Wise Men also have an important dream.
The Magi, who had previously asked Herod for directions to Bethlehem, are “warned in a dream not to return to Herod”. So they return to their own country “by another road”.
This warning presumably came by way of angels. That would be in keeping with Joseph’s dreams. Artists typically depict these dreams as being angelic visits.
I remember, years ago, attending clergy meetings at the Congregational Church in Malden. In the parlor of that church there was a beautiful painting (an original, I was told) of the Wise Men asleep while angels whispered their warning to them. It was a remarkable piece and an unusual part of the Christmas story to be rendered.
I wonder how often God comes to us in our dreams and we don’t realize it. Most of the time we don’t remember our dreams.
I certainly don’t. But somehow I don’t think that matters. In fact, I’m betting that the residual imprint of a divine encounter, though unremembered, will percolate to my waking life and influence my behavior in ways I may not even be aware of. So it is with you as well.
They say that you can train yourself to remember your dreams. I’ve never had much luck with that. For those who do remember their dreams, they often don’t make much sense. This, too, happens frequently in the bible. In fact, prophets are often called upon to interpret the dreams of royalty in the Old Testament. Asking for help in interpreting your own dreams would certainly be in keeping with our faith tradition.
A third of life is spent asleep. That’s a lot. I wonder how much work God accomplishes in us during sleep; in what the bible might call this “religiously altered state”. Is sleeping and dreaming just for physical and mental restoration, or is something more going on?
This Sunday is Epiphany Sunday and we will hear once again about the dream of the Magi and the way in which it changed their plans. Who knows what “other roads” we might choose if we were more attentive to God’s presence in our dreams.
See you in church,