Hold on tight – to your dreams. This is a song I sometimes finish a set with, using it as a kind of personal signature tune. It’s an upbeat message of hope that everyone can be lifted by, but for me it also has a spiritual message.
There is an Old Testament prophecy in Ezekiel, which is repeated in the New Testament in the Book of Acts. On the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, God sends the Holy Spirit which manifests as hundreds of people suddenly speaking in foreign languages (‘tongues’). The apostle Peter gives an explanation, saying this is the fulfilment of the prophecy.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams. In those days I will give my Spirit to my servants, both men and women, and they will prophesy.
The personal interest for me is that it says “your old men will have dreams …” Usually being ‘a dreamer’ is associated with young people. So not being a spring chicken myself, I take heart that God can somehow give me dreams, which I take to be holy imaginings about how things could be. In fact I think he gives them to us all, if we are paying attention.
I sang this recently at the Spondon Folk and Acoustic Club at the Vernon Arms. It was my opening song and the first time I had played there. It’s an easy listening song, and people were soon joining in the chorus.
However – it’s not easy listening if you take note of the lyrics. It’s a song about our mortality – how life is slip sliding’ away and it’s about a search for meaning. Does God have a plan for our lives – and is that where we can find meaning? It’s a huge topic and simple ‘proof text’ verses from the Bible won’t do it justice. I get encouragement that I’m not the only one who gets puzzled though – there is part of the debate in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 1. I think I’m with Paul Simon on this one.
Sometimes I go to a Christian support and discussion group called ‘Liminal’, which means at or close to the edge – hence this piece of music by Yes.
For centuries the Christian church mainly in Europe, was at the centre of political and cultural power. That situation, ‘Christendom’, has been waning over the last two hundred years and now we can no longer assume people hold to Christian values or even know much about the religion.
So people in Christian mission work once again see themselves at the edge of their own culture, reach out into the different world around them. I think that is like Jesus who was certainly socialising with people at the edge or outside of ‘polite’ society. In the gospel of Matthew we read that he helped a man with leprosy (a mutilating, killer disease) , the servant of a Roman soldier (Roman troops were the resented occupying power in the country), people with evil spirits (all kinds of weird) and a tax collector (also working for the Romans).
In another place he is approached for help by a crazily-desperate foreign woman – when devout Jewish men would not have dealt with women or foreigners. Jesus seems to be winding her up about this, but then relents as once again he crosses the boundary (Matthew 15.21-28)