“Darn That Dream” May 26, 2019

“Darn That Dream”

Psalm 67/ Acts 16:9-15/ John 24:23-29


There are many different words for when a song gets stuck in your head. Examples include earworms, repetunitis, and melodymania. Stuck song syndrome and Involuntary Musical Imagery (IMI) are some of the lesser known descriptions of this annoying little condition. As far as we know, they can’t hurt us; they’re just a sign that our brains are looking for something to do to stay busy. My mental ding-a-ling for the last few days has been an old jazz standard from the late 30’s called “Darn That Dream.” Billie Holiday made it famous and since then, most every singer worth their salt has given it a shot. The first verse goes something like, “Darn that dream I dream each night/ You say you love me and you hold me tight./Then I awake and you’re out of sight/ O, darn that dream.”

It’s a catchy little tune all about some guy (or gal) who keeps dreaming about the object of his affection but is frustrated with the dream because this other person won’t even give him (or her) the time of day. O, darn that dream. Like I said, it’s catchy but that’s about it. The perfect song to get stuck in your head.

In our reading today from Acts 16 we find the Apostle Paul in the biblical area of Asia, which was made up of what we now know roughly as the nation of Turkey. Things weren’t going so well. (Acts 16:6) reads, Paul and his companions traveled throughout the regions of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from speaking the word in the province of Asia. .After leaving Galatia they ventured back into northern Asia but, once again, (vs. 7) When they approached the province of Mysia, they tried to enter the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them. Now, this had to have been frustrating. After all, this is country that Paul knew well. He had established churches in Ephesus, Galatia, Colossae, and who knows where else. This was his home turf; Asia was his back yard. And now, it’s as if he was being stonewalled. Paul’s dream of establishing the church of Christ in this little part of the world was looking grim. Darn that dream, anyhow.

So Paul puts his finger in the wind, it seems, and ends up in the town of Troas on the banks of the Aegean Sea where (vs 9) A vision of a man from Macedonia came to Paul during the night. He stood, urging Paul, “Come over to Macedonia to help us.” And that was it; that’s all it took. Paul and his crew couldn’t wait to pack up and book passage to go west. I’ve always marveled at this move that Paul made. It was gutsy-or so it seemed. Courageous even. But was this the right thing to do? He was leaving a land that he knew- a land that was filled with his kind of people, Jewish people, people who understood the law and the importance of the God of Abraham. He could work with this crowd. He knew their hopes and their fears; he knew what made them tick. So why not stick it out? The answer is found in vs 10,  Immediately after he saw the vision, we prepared to leave for the province of Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

I always loved this story. I’ve always loved it because it reminds me so much of our story, of my story. It reminds me that every time I get to thinking that my plans are right on target, when my dreams are rolling along just great…well, that’s the time to get nervous. That’s the time to worry because sooner or later my plans and my dreams are going to wander away from the plan that God has for me – for us – and we’re stuck with the nasty dilemma of knowing we can’t have it both ways.

But not Paul, and you have to marvel at that. You have to wonder: if Paul had never crossed over from Asia into Europe, would the message of the love of Christ ever have reached the world the way that it did? And I mean the real message of Christ, not some doctored up or watered down version that might have pleased those in power at the time. You have to marvel at that. You have to marvel at his single mindedness to proclaim the good news wherever, however, and to whoever God pointed him to speak.

You know, I can’t help but chuckle a bit that the first person that Paul baptized in Philippi was a gentile and a woman, no less. Her name was Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. And he didn’t find her in the temple or synagogue but at a prayer meeting beside the river. It seemed that from that time on, the Spirit got a hold of Paul and his disciples and wouldn’t let go. And all because he was willing to listen for the dream that God had for him and nothing else.

People might say, “This power of the Spirit that you folks talk about, what up with that?” I don’t know – I wonder if the thing to say might be something like, “You know when you get a song stuck in your head? At first, it’s kind of annoying and you try to get rid of it? Well, having the power of the Spirit is a bit like that. At first, when you catch the Spirit, it messes with your plans. You can’t waltz around judging folks the way you used to. You can’t look away at the injustice and meanness of this world. You just can’t. The power of the Spirit changes you inside. Darn that dream, anyhow.”

And then you might say, “But you know what?  The good part is that after a while, it becomes a tune that you’d never live without.”


Amen & Shalom


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