Matthew 12:18-21 (Isaiah 42:1-4)
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
To wish, to hope, and to dream. Since these occur so naturally to us from childhood, the practice is most often associated with childish flights of imagination. In fact, we encourage and celebrate the fancies of innocent children especially in a season such as that ahead of us ripe for such yearnings. The wish lists of boys and girls and the eager expectations of little ones cause their elders to smile and often work to fulfill those dreams. No one wants youngsters to set their hearts on something only to have hopes dashed. So, make a wish and dare to dream, children, before reality sets in.
Yet, somehow we never outgrow or shed our weakness for hopes and dreams. Imprudent and impracticable as it may seem, and hardly adult, there isn’t one of us who doesn’t yearn for something or someone. Even the most grizzled pragmatist bears his secret wishes. Admit it. You dream too—a lot. You may believe yourself to have learned to manage such naïveté without letting wishes run away with you. Yet, like a climber clutching for a handhold or a doctor’s patient waiting by the phone, the hunger for something good to happen is universal.
Our inclination as Christians may be to separate ourselves from wishful thinkers and pride ourselves in grounded hopes. “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25)
It is not our idea of Christian belief to dream the impossible dream, to wish upon a star or cross our fingers. Of course not. Yet, let us be cautious not to reduce our Christian hopes and dreams to dull practicality. Christian faith does not mean we simply man up to the realities of life, put aside childishness, and begin some tedious wait. Advent joy is not in a Gospel merely sensible or serviceable.
The coming of Christ is the uprising of outrageous hopes, radical dreams, and sweeping expectations beyond anyone’s highest imaginations. We are youngsters of a good and tender Heavenly Father who will not have his children’s hearts set on eternal life, peace and paradise only to have such hopes dashed. That is why He invites us to behold His servant, God's own servant, God's own beloved servant—His Son, Jesus Christ, in whom the Spirit of hope dwells.
The Apostle Paul does not over-speak his wishes when he writes to the Romans, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Rom. 15:13)
Yes, compared to the comparatively mundane things of which people so often dream, our greater Christ-anchored hopes of an endless life in communion with God, of joy exceeding, and being clothed with righteousness seem unattainable. It is hope above all hope. But of this we may truly dream with soaring forethoughts of all good to happen. Our dreams are not silly nor our hopes preposterous. One cannot imagine any good beyond our Lord’s ability to supply. No thought can surpass His gifts. No dream is too lofty. No hope is too vast.
So, with the coming of Christ, should we not be wish-full thinkers and dreamers of dreams? We live in the actual days of which God declared, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
The Dear Desire of every nation comes. In the Christ of God the Gentiles have placed their hope. Dreams may fly. Our yearning faith may leap with delight as an unrestrained child foresees a perfect Christmas morning.
The fact is—reality has set in. A Christian’s dreams are not protection against reality—an outlet or escape from it—but a confession which embraces it. We dream from the certainty of Christ, hope of the world.