This morning, I had breakfast with a pastor of a large congregation in Atlanta. Towards the end of the conversation, she paused, leaned across the table, and whispered almost as if she was worried I would think she had lost her mind completely, “I have a crazy, huge dream of what our church could be in the world.” She then went on to outline one of the most exciting, visionary strategies that I have ever heard from a pastor. By the time she finished talking, I was ready to quit my job and sign up to help. She must succeed. The world needs this kind of church to exist.
I drove back to the office pondering what it would be like if more of us could and would dreams bigger dreams, not just for ourselves, but for our world. I would love to live in such a place.
One of my favorite biblical passages is the story of Moses encountering God in the burning bush. It's essentially your standard encounter with a deity: attention-getting event with the burning bush, booming voice saying "Moses, Moses ...", sign of humility and humanity by shedding the sandals, a commitment by God saying “I will deliver my people from bondage,” hesitation ("I can't do this"), and divine reassurance ("yes you can").
And then it comes. "Suppose I go to the Israelites and tell them all this great news and they're skeptical, asking who this God is who sent me. What shall I tell them?” Such an innocent, understandable, even reasonable question, don't you think? Except that it's not. Moses is asking an incredibly bold question: Who are you? What is your name? What is your essence? And what does that mean for me?
It is the boldest question I can imagine … and encountering the answer changes us. God replies, “I am who I am,” or more accurately, “I will be who I will be.” For Moses, that meant signing on for an adventure that changed the life of his people and the history of the world. When we connect with God as the creative force in our lives and the world, we will do more than we could ever imagine.
Sometimes I wonder if we dream smaller dreams for our lives because we doubt who we are and whose we are. If we actually understood — at the core of our being — that we are children of God, created in God’s image and likeness, we would find limiting thoughts, dreams or ambitions distasteful at best.
What dream is hiding within you that the world needs you to live out? What idea has been planted in you that feels ready to burst boldly into life? What hope can you whisper to a friend over breakfast and with that breath, paint a picture so inspiring she would quit her job and join you on the journey?
Speak it. Do it. Live it. Today.
We are all in this together.
Sparking Ministry Conversations
What is the most hope-filled, life-giving, fun-loving future you can imagine for your church? 2. What makes that future likely?
The Rev. Cameron Trimble is Executive Director of the UCC's Center for Progressive Renewal. Cameron is convinced that our future is in cultivating the highest quality of soul-filled ordained and lay leadership.