Have you ever had a really crazy dream?
I have had a couple, thousand, in which my entire recollection is about the desperate need I had to wake up, because something bad or scary was happening.
Some of them have been about going into a really small tight space. I’m a little bit claustrophobic, so when it comes to tight squeezes, I’m out, and I pop up awake!
I remember years ago going to Howe’s Caverns and being unable to go through a labyrinth of rocks, and backing away because I couldn’t see far enough ahead to see the way out. No, not happening! And dreaming about it is just as bad!
I’ve even had a dream where somehow, I ended up swimming alone in the ocean with not a spec of land in sight! It wasn’t claustrophobic, but none-the-less it still was terrifying.
And I’ve also had a series of dreams where I would wake up, go back to sleep and end up at the same exact spot in the same dream and have to wake up again!
One night, after going through that three times I finally got up, went to the living room and sat in the recliner for a half hour to break the cycle.
The latest dream was a doozy.
I went to someone’s house to take them to a party, but they weren’t ready yet, so I decided to run to the store for some reason, which was in what appeared to be central Manhattan.
There I promptly got lost and was terrified I wouldn’t find my way back to my friend’s house in time to go to the party. Did I mention the friend was wearing what looked like a wedding dress?
Not that all dreams are bad. Sometimes there are moments of remembering people and places you haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes dreams are all about what happened to you that particular day.
And other times they are a seeming mishmash of thoughts and experiences all randomly bundled together, as though in your sleep your brain found a box of memories on a shelf, and emptied the contents in a pile on the bed to sort through all before putting it all back in order.
Crazy dreams, I have had!
But I can’t ever remember a time when an angel of the Lord came to me in a dream and said like he did to Joseph, “marry the girl!” Not even with Sue!
Now the scripture doesn’t say that Joseph was sleeping, just that he was “thinking about these things” when in a dream an angel of the Lord came to him.
The language is consistent with the way Matthew presents these things throughout his gospel!
This dream, this vision is a fulfillment of the words of the prophet Joel 2:28, where he says, “Later, I will give my Spirit to everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions”
While Luke speaks much more directly, saying “an angel appeared” to Mary, Matthew speaks more to Joseph’s being one who is “filled with the Spirit” and already prepared to serve the Lord when the call comes in a vision!
The bottom line is that this child is so important and the circumstances so unusual, that both Mary and Joseph needed to know who the child was and that indeed it was the Lord’s doing that he was being born in this way!
So, Joseph, hearing the call to faithful action goes and does what he is instructed to do: he marries Mary and names their son Jesus. And it is not the only time that Joseph listens and then jumps into action. Joseph is in fact a model of a disciple, a man or woman of faith who listens and then immediately starts looking for ways to put their faith into action.
Joseph, warned by an angel, takes his family safely to Egypt, even though that must have been wildly confusing, and then when the word comes from yet another angel to go home, bundles up the family and moves back to Nazareth.
Faith is never something that we pull out for a moment and then put back on the shelf. Rather, faith, is the medium that allows God’s call to us to become action.
In fact, it appears that Matthew would love for us to get something real clear in telling us about Joseph’s faith. Real disciples do not just listen and nod their heads in agreement with what they hear. Real disciples get up and get going and start making a difference, just like Joseph.
So, what is it that God has been inviting you to do? What message has the Lord been sending? Isn’t it time to get up and get going!
And Joseph named Him Jesus! Amen.