Friday, April 15, 2011

A Dream That Touched Reality

It happened overnight, in a dream no less. A new and fresh revelation, a least for me--exciting, and full of implication for the healing of the nations. "Do you realize," I heard a voice say, "that the Lord's Prayer--first offered by Jesus as a model for our praying--would be equally appropriate as a prayer model for a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, and people of every other religious persuasion, tribe, and nation?"

No, I hadn't realized that. It had never entered my mind. Yet the more I thought about it the more excited I became. From the "Our Father"--meant to be inclusive of all people on this earth--through the assigning of ourselves to the coming of his kingdom and the doing of his will to the pleas for daily bread, forgiveness received and offered, and guidance away from temptation, the whole of life is covered for the whole of humanity. And the language used is as neutral to circumstance as it is universal in character.

What mattered to Jesus, it seems, and must matter to us all as children of one Father, is the honoring of his name and will. Prayer, to be meaningful, must enter humbly into mysteries that transcend all the categories into which we have separated ourselves as human beings. Its aim must always be to look to the One who created us and waits always in the wings to bring us back to himself and one another.

At the center of it all for me, of course, is the person and work of Jesus Christ. But all of us who share that faith must be careful not to bind him to categories of our own making or conclusions concerning him we have arrived at on our own. Ours is not to guide him into the dark abysses of our tomorrows. It is rather to follow after him and his Spirit, which can never be captured by us but is always ready to lead us along life's way.

I woke refreshed this morning from my dream, freed once again from the awful burden so many are taking on themselves these days of pretending to know more about God and his will than they do. My most fervent prayer, both for myself and for them, is rather to approach life and all its complications in the spirit of the hymn writer who affirmed what I know to be true, that "God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain" (The Covenant Hymnal: A Worshipbook, No. 418).