31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
January 29, 2023
Genesis 41:1-8, 14-16, 25
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Ugly cows climbing out of the river to eat other cows? I’ve had some pretty strange dreams but never that one. It’s funny though that no matter how strange the dream, it’s totally believable when you are in the dream. Panda cab driver, completely normal. Driving a rollercoaster to work, why of course.
And maybe that’s why God speaks to us through dreams.
Does that surprise you? To hear that God speaks to us through dreams? It’s true. God speaks to us every day and often through everyday ordinary things, and especially through our ordinary every night lay your head on your pillow dreams.
Because when we are dreaming, we are open and accepting- in a way we rarely are when we are awake. When we are awake, we put up walls to God’s still speaking voice. We sense God calling us but we say no, God can’t really be asking me to reach out to that person. We experience something really heart stirring, and we say, it was just a coincidence. It doesn’t mean anything. A small child says something incredibly wise, and we dismiss it because after all, they are just a child.
Our waking minds put up barriers to God. When we are asleep though, when we are dreaming, our bodies and minds are relaxed, vulnerable, open, and anything is possible. Anything is possible, even God’s dream of a world where all people are in harmony with one another and with creation, a world in which all people are connected to our Creator. When we are asleep, when we dream, we are open enough to listen to God’s call and believe God’s kingdom, God’s inclusive community is possible, here on earth as it is in heaven.
Dreams can be strange and they can also be powerful messages from God. Joseph realized that at a young age. In addition to being famous for his coat of many colors, Joseph was a man who experienced God, who knew God’s presence and heard God’s voice through his dreams.
Earlier in the book of Genesis are stories of God speaking to Joseph through his dreams, but this wasn’t Joseph’s dream we heard about today. God was speaking to Pharaoh. It is the king of Egypt who is having a spiritual experience with God.
Pharaoh doesn’t understand the dreams though. He knows they mean something though. He is unwilling to write them off as crazy dreams brought about by indigestion or stress. Pharaoh knows there is a message in these dreams, and so Pharaoh goes seeking someone who can lend some understanding to this dream, this vision, he has had.
Over and over again, Pharaoh tells his dreams to the wisest men in Egypt, to the magicians and sages. None of them could tell him what these cows and ears of corn meant though. They were just as befuddled, and then someone tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is currently in Pharaoh’s dungeon (because Joseph was wrongly accused by his employer’s wife). This person has seen for himself how Joseph is able to interpret dreams and make clear that which previously seemed strange and confusing.
So Joseph is sent for and as promised, Joseph is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Or rather, Joseph is gifted by God with the ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. (To God always be the glory, right?!) God is speaking directly to Pharaoh, revealing God’s plans to Pharaoh. Joseph faithfully walks alongside Pharaoh and uses his gift from God to help Pharaoh understand God’s message.
There are times in our lives when we are going to experience God like Pharaoh did. In our waking dreams, in our sleeping dreams, we are going to have a revelation that on the surface might sound crazy however with further prayer and discernment, we discover what God is trying to tell us. We open ourselves to God’s still speaking voice, guiding us forward into a future of hope – for ourselves, for the world.
There are also times in our lives when we will be called by God to be Joseph, to come alongside someone else, to walk beside them and help them discern God’s message, God’s vision, God’s dream.
This is our calling as Christians and a Christian community. To listen to God through the ordinary happenings of our lives, to listen to God through our dreams and the whispers of the spirit. And to be a spiritual community that expects God’s presence in everyone’s lives, that nurtures an awareness of the Spirit, that walks alongside one another that we might all better understand God’s wisdom, God’s calling as we seek to create a better world.
Listening to God, through our own experiences and through the experiences of others, goes together. In order to share light and understanding with others about their experiences with God, we have to nurture our own experiences with God. We have to live lives in which we expect God to show up and show up in a big way. We need to nurture in ourselves the belief that God is real and that the signs of the Spirit are all around us, in all of the wonderful and every day things.
As we nurture our own spiritual experiences with God, we also need to be individuals and a community that embrace and affirm others when they say, “God said to me”. An authentic spiritual community that prays together for discernment when someone shares a vision God has revealed to them.
This is our sacred calling as a Christian community, to be a place where God’s visions, God’s revelations, God’s dreams can be thoughtfully and prayerfully shared and discerned. To be an authentic spiritual community where we don’t have to be asleep to believe and see that anything is possible with God – because anything truly is possible with God. God has a plan. I believe.