I tend to dream in repetitive themes. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of being ordained or installed as pastor of a church. But at the same time, the world is coming to an end! In one dream I am committed to serving the church, preaching and leading worship, even as fire is bursting from the heavens and flood waters are rushing down the streets! In another dream I’m doing online worship, but I’m repeating the same message over and over because the world is ending and there are no new ideas to be garnered.
I admit that I enjoy science fiction and have watched several world-ending films. I also blame first Isaiah! These apocalyptic films and readings may feed my imagination, but I believe there is a message my subconscious is trying to share and get my conscious self to see.
Perhaps these dreams are occurring because we’re coming to the end of the calendar year. It is a time to reflect on the previous year and plan for the next. And that is where the anxiety comes from. The methods and tools we have used in the past may not work for us this time. How do we calculate attendance? Will people return to the pews? Should we budget for what is pledged or what is hoped for? How can our previous attendance and budgets help track what may happen in 2023? And what about all the empty space we now have in the church?
I may be saying to myself that the current ideas I have utilized in the past may not work in this new world. The world I know how to manage, administrate, and even minister to is coming to an end. This new world will require gifts I may not possess or skills I cannot access.
The surprising thing about these dreams is that I am not fearful in them. I am clear about my task. In the dreams I am preaching, praying, and teaching. I am being faithful. These dreams bring into focus my sense of call and commitment to all of God’s people. Even when I don’t know what to do, I can lean into faithfulness.
And that may be the nugget to wrap everything else around. If we begin with faithfulness and commitment, then fresh ideas will come, priorities will be laid out, and difficult decisions will be made. We can be faithful because God is faithful. And Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us and to be with us until the end of this age.