“I Have a Dream.” As we prepare to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day next week, we remember how he gave an impassioned speech on the national mall shortly before he was martyred in Memphis, a speech that referenced the scriptures a number of times. “I have a dream,” King exclaimed, electrifying the crowd with a vision that still enlivens and calls us to action today.
Do you have a dream? Do you have a vision for where you want your life to go? And what about your animal, your pet? They have dreams too! People and all their animals, all God’s creatures, have a dream!
“I have had a dream,” Pharaoh says to Joseph, “[but] there is no one to interpret it.” Pharaoh, this god on earth, the most powerful man in Egypt, was, ironically, impotent to understand his own dream. But Joseph, the Hebrew, held in his dungeon, understood and interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, to him. You will have 7 years of abundance and great plenty, followed by 7 years of fallow bad luck in the land, Joseph told him. And the rest is history. Pharaoh appointed Joseph to over-see a program of saving-up the surplus of crops those first 7 years, in order to prepare for the next 7years of drought. And Egypt fed not only itself, but Israel, and all the surrounding nations.
Dreams need interpreters so that the vision can come to life. We need helpers and organizers to get us where God wants us to go.
There was another Joseph in the Bible – another Hebrew, who also traveled from Israel to Egypt – the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. Here was a man so devout that God spoke to him in dreams regularly, and he understood them implicitly. When Jesus was a new-born infant, “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream,” to warn him about the evil intentions of Herod. Indeed, Herod could be ruthless and fickle! He had spies and informants throughout the region, and when he heard from the Magi, the 3 wise men, that Jesus had been born “king of the Jews” and they came to worship Jesus, instead of him, Herod the Great, he was willing to go to such lengths as to order every male child 2 years and younger to be killed, just to ensure –or so he thought- that Jesus would be destroyed.
But the earthly father of Jesus, Joseph, was in tune with his dreams. And he and Mary took Jesus out of the country until it was safe to return again.
Our dreams are vital to our survival! Being created by God, we continue to thrive and grow as children of God, whenever we pursue the dream God reveals to us. “I have a Dream!”
Do you have a dream? Has your dream come true yet, or has it been thwarted, shot down, by a Herod, or other nay-sayer?
Even animals, and our pets, have dreams. They are created by God with a unique spirit and personality. And they have a dream to live fully the life God gave them. And all their people, those of us here, I know can agree on this: that animals who are caged are not living their dream, animals that are abused or neglected are not living their dream, just as we, their people, need freedom and the bare necessities of life – to be able to stretch and walk, to eat and sleep, to give and receive comfort and compassion – in order that all of us, all God’s creatures, may live safe and full lives. Just like us, animals cannot live their dream, without human care and contact, and other acts of love and support.
Oliver the kitten didn’t have the most auspicious start in life: An animal control officer from another county’s animal service center rescued the orange tabby from a flooded sewer drain and took him to the shelter, where Oliver hissed at everyone who passed by his cage until the foster coordinator for the county’s Humane Society pulled him from the shelter. She worked with Oliver until he was purring and even playing with dogs.
When the humane society learned that a woman’s dying wish was to hold a kitten and watch him play, they were pretty sure Oliver would be the perfect cat for her. Indeed, Oliver loved the dying woman until she passed away with him curled up next to her. He was adopted by the woman’s granddaughter who today can’t imagine life without him.
Oliver never would have made it out of that storm drain to comfort a dying woman and to be placed into a loving home, had it not been for the partnership of dedicated people working together to save lives.
Domestic animals dream to have people in their lives. They have big and important dreams, but certainly not unreasonable dreams.
Dreams, however, need interpreters so that the vision can come to life. Animals need you and I, helpers and organizers, to get us where God wants us, and them, to go.
We all have dreams, people and all their animals. It’s time we count, every living creature of God, as deserving of a life well lived, to respect one another, and work together for the Dream that God has for each of us.
For God has claimed us all, sons and daughters, dogs and cats, birds of the air, and fish of the sea, and filled us with a divine spirit, and a dream, that we may live it out as God’s very own.
Do you have a dream to spread this good news, to help and support one another? How can we make it come to life?
Thanks be to God for our Dreams!