Meditation Monday

God's Unfolding Dream

by Christine Sine
Inhabit 2024

by Christine Sine

Tom and I just returned from the Inhabit Conference. This is a yearly event for us that draws together a diverse group of people from across North America. I love the rich interplay that our black, hispanic, indigenous and white heritages bring to the mix of music, poetry, liturgy and wisdom we share. 

I had the privilege of helping to craft and share, together with a group from many cultures and generations, our introductory liturgy which focused on God’s good dream of renewal, restoration and shalom for all of creation. I want to share some of this with you. In our broken and fragmented world it is hard sometimes to believe in this dream “which extends far beyond our own; for God’s dream imagines and sets into being more beauty, more joy, more just, more peace, and more connection than we can imagine.” 

Scripture is full of the promise of God’s unfolding dream, of shalom, of the Beloved Community which Jesus teaches us to become part of as we seek to love each other and enter into the glory and beauty of God’s eternal world. My ears still ring with the beauty of the music, the liturgies and the impassioned presentations that called us to love each other, and seek for reconciliation and reparation with each other and with our Creator.  I felt we really came together in a posture of love, learning and wonderful fellowship.  We pray our thoughts, prayers, tears, hearts and energy rise like incense as a pleasing aroma before God. 

Brenda Salter McNeil

I loved the various images of God’s dream that each person spoke out and that later we saw lived out in the neighbourhood stories that were shared.

Our teenage presenters Greta and Kinsey spoke of God’s dream tasting like raspberries from a next door neighbour and the sharing of teddy bears with those who are having a bad day. For them it also sounds like neighbours singing and dancing on the street together, like in a musical, and it feels like teachers helping kids that are hurting, physically and mentally. It looks like welcome and kindness for our neighbours who fled Ukraine and Gaza.

For me, God’s dream is expansive and whole. It’s a dream for all of creation – plants, animals, people – living in shalom together with God. 

I see a shalom community as a place where everyone is happy, full of laughter and song and delight. There. Will be no pollution of air or soil. Everyone will have a place to live that is comfortable and well looked after. There will be jobs for everyone that provide a living wage. The neighbourhood will be alive with gardens of flowers and vegetables, trees and birds and wildlife. Kids will be able to play in the streets without fear and there will be plenty of playgrounds and parks for them as well. There will be no street gangs, or gun shootings or discrimination that keep people in fear for their lives. Everyone will treat everyone else justly, with respect no mater their creed, culture or sexual orientation There will be health care and education for all and everyone will live to a ripe old age without disease or infirmity. 

As we open our eyes to this dream and allow its hope and promise to fill our hearts, we must also open our eyes and ears to the pain, suffering oppression and injustice that fills our world and disrupts the fulfillment of this dream. We think particularly of the people in Ukraine, Gaza, the Sudan and so many other places were violence still reigns. We remember the forgotten ones like  the Uyghurs,  predominantly Muslim people in China who face genocide and  relocation to internment camps 

Creator God, whose name is love, bring equity where poverty and greed now reign. Bring nourishment where hunger and thirst abound, bring friendship where loneliness pulls at our hearts, bring liberation and peace where war destroys…. And let it begin with us. 

We catch glimpses of your dream unfolding in our neighborhoods when we hear of those who seek to transform a park and playground that was closed because of violence, shootings and equipment unsafe for children to use. We rejoiced when we heard that it will reopen as a restored, rebuilt and safe environment for adults and children alike. 

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We rejoice too when we hear of the church parking lot, once concrete, now a thriving and much appreciated community garden in the midst of one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in America. We rejoice with those who help keep local family businesses alive and plan neighbourhood parties and festivities. Our hearts swell when we hear of advocates for indigenous people whose land was confiscated and of those who make strawberry jam and share in the strawberry festival held on land taken from Japanese farmers interred during World War II to help keep alive this rich heritage bring reparation. We are touched by those who work to provide housing for the homeless and low income families. 

As people shared I was reminded of other glimpses I have caught of God’s dream over the years. I was in Germany just after the Berlin Wall fell and watched people dance on the now crumbling and broken wall. I acquired a small piece of the wall as a reminder of that victory, contributed to by the many who prayed throughout its life that it would be destroyed. I walked the streets of Poland too as the statues of Stalin were pulled down and talked to people hungry for the hope of freedom it symbolized. I remembered the refugee camps I worked in in the mid 80s with Khymer refugees on the Thai/Cambodian border and the tears that flowed as I read the email sent 12 years later telling me the camps were now closed and the last refugee had returned to their homeland. 

Thank you God for your dream and for the glimpses we catch of its fulfillment. 

As we end let me share my favourite Biblical image of God’s new world bursting into our. It has sustained and encouraged me through refugee camps, stories of atrocity, hatred and devastation. One day God’s dream will come in its fullness. 

“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.

Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness.
Her people will be a source of joy.

I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and delight in my people.
And the sound of weeping and crying
will be heard in it no more.

“No longer will babies die when only a few days old.
No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life.
No longer will people be considered old at one hundred!
Only the cursed will die that young!

In those days people will live in the houses they build
and eat the fruit of their own vineyards.

Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses
and confiscate their vineyards.
For my people will live as long as trees,
and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.

They will not work in vain,
and their children will not be doomed to misfortune.
For they are people blessed by the Lord,
and their children, too, will be blessed.

I will answer them before they even call to me.
While they are still talking about their needs,
I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
But the snakes will eat dust.
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”

(Isaiah 65: 17-25)

Amen Creator God – may your dream come in all its fullness.

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