Have you ever had a dream, only to wake up and not be able to remember it? Forgotten dreams are one of those mysterious parts of the human experience. We grasp for the details, but even though the dream itself is but a few hours old, they seem as though they happened decades in the past. It’s one of those things I want to ask God about when I get to heaven.
This year, many of us have experienced the mystery of forgotten dreams; and not just the kind we have when we enter REM, but the kind we have as part of a normal productive life. The goals and plans we made in January seem but a distant memory for many of us, as we have scrambled to keep ourselves safe and secure during uncertain times.
And yet, as old dreams have been forgotten, new dreams have been born. At St. Philip’s, we have continued to listen and adapt as we actively seek the new vision God has for us. Since March, we have ushered in new technologies allowing us to reach new people in new places while staying connected to most (if not all) of our existing family. We have restructured our programming to meet the needs of a changing world. We have refocused our outreach to fill in the gaps left by Backpack Coalition, and even though we could not physically go to Guatemala, your generous gifts provided the funds to build a home for a family in San Raymundo. As Christmas approaches, we are excited about the new ways we will be able to spread the message of Christ’s joy to each of you, as well as our neighbors.
As we head into this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of how incredibly important it is to give thanks for all of our dreams – both the ones that we feel like are forgotten as well as the new ones that God has given us in this season. In Isaiah 43, the prophet speaks these words of hope to a beleaguered people:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isahiah 43:18-19)
It is difficult to say good-bye to old dreams, but there is so much to celebrate in the new things God is doing among us! Drive-by birthday parties have brought joy not only to individuals, but entire neighborhoods. Food drop offs for local families in need have provided a gateway to discipleship as new families are joining our children’s ministry and worshipping with us on Sundays. Outdoor youth activities are reinvigorating our student ministry as new young people are finding a safe way to connect with God and one another.
Our church looks differently than it did at the beginning of the year. Old plans have been put on hold. But something new is emerging. In the words of Esther, we were made for such a time as this. Your generous and faithful support has allowed us to adapt to a changing world. In the midst of all of the craziness of this year, one thing has risen above it all: the faithfulness of God to provide and the generous response of his people.
This Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks to God for the new thing He is doing among us. I will give thanks for family, who continue to show love and kindness in these uncertain times. And I will give thanks for you – those faithful followers of Jesus who keep the dream alive.