Naming our sins

Posted: July 28, 2012 in Observation Post

A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities. J. R. R. TOLKIEN

I don’t know if this is normal, but I dream three kinds of dreams. There are the regular dreams that are usually a medley of recollections, ideas to process, pizza to digest, etc. Then there are the dreams that I control. Like a movie, I can stop and replay them, and I can also change the scenarios and play various characters. I am not usually myself in these dreams. Then there are the dreams I refer to as OtherOther dreams stay with me long after I wake and sometimes for days and months. They leave a strong spiritual impression and impact what I think and believe when I awake. Two nights ago, I had an Other dream.

I dreamed that the audience at my church was full of new faces. Scattered throughout the auditorium, they broke into a throng of ecstatic worship gestures: full body convulsions, heads thrown back, arms outstretched, undulations, and bellowing cries in Gibberish.  When this group of outsiders took the stage with rainbow flags waving, it wasn’t difficult to recognize the mockery. They commandeered the Sunday worship service.

In my dream, I confronted the demonstration leader seeking to understand his purpose. He explained to me that this protest was in response to the wounds he received from the church. As an outsider, the hypocrisy he witnessed within the church convinced him that their worship was false, and so he and his followers came to demonstrate the ridiculous spectacle of false worship that he observed.

At that moment, a friend of mine approached him in tears, begging him to stop the mockery. His actions were insulting to her faith and to God. Pointing at her, I told the demonstration leader that this woman had also come from the outside, but that the church was to her a place of restoration. It was a place for wounds to be healed. Her experience was real.

I began to apologize. I was filled with grief that the church had not been a place of restoration for he and his followers as it had been for my friend. As I called the pastors to gather with me around this man, we asked him to name our sins.

In my dream, the pastors were very angry and broken-hearted by this whole incident, yet we leaned in and implored this man to name our sins and to name them loudly. Each sin that he called out, we wrote on paper, pierced with a nail and violently hammered into a statue of Christ that hung with a cross in the front of the church.

Silence. Names of sin. Crack of a hammer smashing through the hands, the thighs, the abdomen, the skull of Christ. Gasps, moans, silence, and then it happened again and again.

With tears swelling my eyes, I asked the outsider for forgiveness. I pointed at the demolished statue of Christ and told the man that he was not the only one who suffered because of our sins. This, I explained, still pointing at Christ, is the path to restoration. His body broken for us. While we may know grief, suffering, and feel the pang of death tugging at our souls, the way of Christ is resurrection, renewal, and restitution. Christ made alive to rebuild and restore all things. This is why we celebrate and worship. Without this, as he observed, our activity is a ridiculous spectacle of false worship.

Then I awoke. My eyes were swollen and heavy and my heart full of sorrow. How many sins do we hide under the shroud of our righteousness? Oh that someone would stand up and name them for us.

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