Monday, January 17, 2005

Dreams Are For Dreamers

Genesis 37:5-20 (New International Version)

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it."
8 His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father's flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, "As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them."
"Very well," he replied.
14 So he said to him, "Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me." Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, "What are you looking for?"
16 He replied, "I'm looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?"
17 "They have moved on from here," the man answered. "I heard them say, 'Let's go to Dothan.' "
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.”


It all seems like many lifetimes ago now, almost forty years. Dr. Martin Luther King, born on January 15, 1929, fell to an assassin’s bullet before his fortieth birthday. Today we set aside this day as a memorial to his life and the ideals that he lived and died for.

The dreamer died, but the dream lives on.

I think back to those now and find myself amazed that America survived the purging. Our cities were on fire. Dreamers, one after the other, were being cut down by evil men intent on cutting short the dream. We were on the brink of revolution. The air seemed to be filled with fear, hate, and despair.

But those who tried to destroy the dreams couldn’t. The dreams were even bigger and grander and nobler than those who dreamed them.

I believe it good and fitting that we honor the man and his dream today.

The words he spoke were for dreamers:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a states weltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists,with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification - one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father's died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi - from every mountainside. Let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring - when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children - black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles,Protestants and Catholics - will be able to join hands and sing in the wordsof the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

There would be no better way to honor Doctor King’s memory than to carry on where he left off.

While America now is far better than the America of the sixties, we still have far to go. This generation, like Doctor King’s, needs dreamers. We need those now who would be willing to put hands and feet to their dreams, to live out and amplify the dream that Doctor King so nobly advanced.

2 comments:

Tom Reindl said...

Phil, thanks for that wonderful post celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. The man truly had a dream, and it has come true partly. Bigotry will not rend the dream from its foundation.

Pastor Mike said...

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a great man. I aspire to stand on my convictions as firmly as this man did by the grace of God.