A Disjunctive Prayer
On Sunday I preached from Revelation 21:1-6—a passage that I would guess is among the more well-known and well-loved in all of Scripture. It speaks of a new heaven and a new earth where the old order of things has passed away. No more tears, no more death, no more pain… It is a world that seems too good to be true. It is a world that scarcely resembles the reality that Revelation’s first hearers/readers were familiar with. Or that we are familiar with. For as long as it has been around, there has been a disjunction between this text and the lived reality of those who read it, hear it, and hope for what it promises.
This disjunction is, I think, beautifully expressed in a prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s Prayers for a Privileged People that I read this morning. It is called “Dreams and Nightmares”:
Last night as I lay sleeping, I had a dream so fair… I dreamed of the Holy City, well ordered and just. I dreamed of a garden of paradise, well-being all around and a good water supply. I dreamed of disarmament and forgiveness, and caring embrace for all those in need. I dreamed of a coming time when death is no more.”
Last night as I lay sleeping… I had a nightmare of sins unforgiven. I had a nightmare of land mines still exploding and maimed children. I had a nightmare of the poor left unloved, of the homeless left unnoticed, of the dead left ungrieved. I had a nightmare of quarrels and rages and wars great and small.
When I awoke, I found you still to be God, presiding over the day and the night with serene sovereignty, for dark and light are both alike to you.
At the break of day we submit to you our best dreams and our worst nightmares, asking that your healing mercy should override threats, that your goodness will make our nightmares less toxic and our dreams more real.
Thank you for visiting us with newness that overrides what is old and deathly among us. Come among us this day; dream us toward health and peace, we pray in the name of Jesus who exposes our fantasies.