Read Acts 2:17
I don’t wear glasses or contacts. I’ve never had to wear any kind of corrective lenses in my life. Most people would say that makes me lucky. I think that makes me unusual. Most people I know wear glasses, so I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed that I don’t have to. I guess it depends on your perspective.
Vision. Prophesies. Dreams. In the reading from Acts today, there are a lot a funny words that I’m not sure what to do with. We don’t really use those words or hear about these things in 2014. When we do, we usually treat them with a healthy amount of skepticism, if not derision. They seem a little anachronistic, if not downright silly. But I guess it depends on your perspective.
Perspective. I wonder if that’s not what these words from Acts (quoting the prophet Joel) are referring to. In talking about the eschaton, or the end times, I think it’s possible that the author is urging the readers to a change in perspective. A change, or a shift, in perspective often requires a refocusing or a reorienting on our part. What we thought was the focus or the main subject is no longer the case. What you thought was important actually isn’t.
In this time of Advent, we find ourselves shifting our perspective. Amidst the ever-lengthening buildup to Christmas, we take four weeks and proclaim, “Not yet! Wait.” Advent is a time of preparation, but the focus is the preparation itself, not necessarily the thing that we’re preparing for. The preparation is slow, methodical, contemplative… It isn’t rushed; it’s measured and purposeful. In the midst of preparing, we wait expectantly, and consider our selves and our lives with a fresh and new perspective.
Most people I know with glasses often admit something to the effect of, “I’m as blind as a bat without these things.” In this winter season of lengthening nights and shortening days, I wonder if a little blindness isn’t perhaps good for us. Darkness allows us to rest, allows us to slow down and sit with ourselves and our loved ones a little longer. There’s stillness in the darkness. Quiet. We can hear ourselves better in the silence. We can hear God.
So, while visions and prophesies and dreams might not mean much to us in the 21st century, may we at least be still enough to consider them. May we find our vision drawn to the most vulnerable among us, as the one who comes to us as an infant without a home. May we be prophets for peace, calling the world to a new way of living together as God would have us. And may we dream of a future where all have enough, and none go without.
Questions for reflection: What dreams do you have for your life? For the world? What does a hoped-for future look like to you? What impairs your vision to seek after that future? What are some small changes you can make today that can bring that future closer?