Have you ever looked at a photograph of a place far away and thought, ‘I’d love to go there some day’? For many years I have dreamt of a trip to Thailand to see the temples, beaches, wildlife and cities. It has always been just a dream, outwith my reach, not just because of the cost and finding time to make it worthwhile travelling so far, but because the best time to go, avoiding the Thai winter and monsoon season, coincides with our busiest time of year from November to February.
This year, for the first time in my 25 years of Ministry, I went away for a holiday in January and fulfilled an ambition, living the dream. I was not disappointed, it was the best holiday ever. Visiting temples, chatting with Buddhist monks, snorkelling in warm seas full of amazing fish and coral, spending a whole day feeding, cleaning and playing with elephants in a sanctuary, eating all sorts of exotic dishes and fish.
Before you think this is a travel brochure, let me explain why I am sharing this with you. Firstly, it is thanks to you that I was able to go. In all my years of ministry I would never have felt comfortable leaving a congregation for a whole month at a busy time of year. But here we have a good team of elders, session clerks, associate deacon, and congregation members whom I have learned to trust that the Church is in good hands and will be cared for.
Secondly, looking at the bigger picture, 50 years ago, like many west of Scotland folk, my holidays were to exotic islands like Rothsay or Arran. Yes, they were great, but no one would have imagined travelling 5985 miles to practically the other end of the world, for a holiday. The only elephants I ever saw were in the circus or the zoo and they were very smelly and unkempt in comparison with the ones we met in Thailand. I flew in a plane for the first time at the age of 31.
150 years ago people would not have believed a human could fly, yet 60 years ago people were dreaming of flying to the moon. Tourism from the UK was just taking off in the 60s and people were travelling further, but it took so long.
Times have changed. What was once a dream is now within our grasp. What was once claimed impossible is now common day practice. To me this just shows that dreams can come true, the impossible may some day just be possible, and what people think now are certainties may well be challenged by new certainties and understanding of this world we live in. This is not just true of our own personal dreams of holidays etc, it is applicable to everything we believe and know in faith and understanding of God, the Church and the world.
When people make claims that what we believe to be true in Easter is totally impossible or just a dream or fantasy, remember history has already proven so many such claims about things in the past to be wrong. What may seem like a dream of heaven on earth for the Church, in the future may well be closer to our reach than we can even imagine, if only we can learn to trust and let go for a while. We must also be willing to step into the unknown in faith, willing to share new dreams, new visons, new hopes. As Paul says in Acts 2 quoting Joel,
“God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy. I’ll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below’”.
May God continue to bless you with the dreams and visions of our Church.
Rev Roddy Macdonald