Early this morning, I dreamed of an odd mix of people and places. Some of it directly attributable to links to current Facebook friends and their moving. Some of it just strangely attributable to the chaos that swirls in my brain and is responsible to the name of this blog.
I dreamed of New Hope Church, in a sort of removed from the action way. I guess that perspective is expected, as it has been a few years since I was an active member there.
I dreamed of Ken Hale, and peripherally, of Annie Miller, both of whom are friends and neighbors from the New Hope period. I dreamed of my Mother, who has been dead for thirty six years, but who, in the dream was much as she was back in the mid 1960s. I, on the other hand, was NOT, in my relationship with her, as I was back then. I was kinder, more relaxed, and more loving toward Mummy in the dream.
In the dream, I wanted to blog about New Hope Church, because it was closing its doors, due to the inability to attract a new pastor. What I wanted to blog about was the whys of this apparent mission failure. I was living in a very small space, with my Mom, and kept telling her that I needed some time to think and write.
Part of the "thinking" process involved talking to Ken, since he and his family were leaving Pittsburgh to move to Asheville, North Carolina. In talking with him, I asked why everyone (apparently, other New Hope leaders were also moving away, since the church was closing) was abandoning the neighborhood, and the professed mission to the Marshall - Shadeland area. My question was: Why is it necessary to have the church building? Can't the outreach continue without a church building and EPC affiliation? Ken's answer, which made absolute sense to me in the dream, was that there was no one qualified to preach the gospel. Also, that there needed to be an affiliation to some governing body, like the Evangelic Presbyterian Church, as a sort of failsafe. He also mentioned that in moving to Asheville he would have the opportunity to grow as an artist, better opportunity to grow his business, and provide for his family. It all was so reasonable, in the dream, that I mentioned to him that I might have some names of folks I had met over the years who either were artists, or had businesses in the Asheville area and might prove helpful in networking.
Annie Miller and I had been having a conversation in the dream, which I rudely ended to go and speak with Ken. Sorry, Annie.
After talking with Ken, I was anxious to get my thoughts down and was trying to explain to my Mom that I needed to get to the computer and have some quiet time to think, reflect and write. Mainly, because my perspective had suddenly, after talking with Ken, changed, so that I was able to see the issue of closing the church from both side of the problem, and I wanted to get all my ideas down while they were still clear in my mind.
The odd thing, is that the very statements that seemed so completely reasonable in my dream, now seem hollow and untrue to me. No one qualified to preach the gospel? What? Were a bunch of fisherman, a tax collector, or the rest, whose occupations are unknown, somehow more qualified to preach the gospel? OK, granted they all had firsthand experience with Jesus, but weren't they all just regular people, chosen by God. And, as believers, don't we, too, have first hand experience with Jesus? And the need to be affiliated with some governing body - well that can be a positive, but it can also be very limiting. That one seems like a 50-50 proposition, at best.
In my dream, one of the thoughts that kept recurring had to do with the disposition of the Cafe and Creamery. Although it never came up in my dream conversation with Ken. I wondered why the Cafe and Creamery couldn't remain and even be used as a "church" when there was need for a building. I had thoughts, rather amorphous, that the former church elders could preach, until such time as any individuals felt called, and that praise and worship could be held outdoors at Horace Mann Field, or at the Cafe. No need for a big church building with all its upkeep and maintenance.
[It occurs to me, that someone reading this may have no idea what "The Cafe and Creamery" is. New Hope Church's 501C3 organization,which was interested in community development, bought a property down the street from the church which had been a nuisance bar. It was converted into a cafe and ice cream shop, initially. Since then, it has expanded to serve soup, sandwiches, and to offer a place for local musicians and performers, as well as a safe haven for neighborhood kids.]
Of course, intruding on this aspect of the dream was the knowledge that when I was still at New Hope, the mortgages of the church building and the Cafe were linked, and that the demise of one, might preclude the demise of the other. Another troubling aspect of my dream was that on the last day, at the last service, the former pastor, from my time at the church, was the keynote speaker. He was also, unashamedly, still trying to woo the leading people of the parish, to "don't give up". But only people he was engaging, were two leading African-American doctors, who seemed to be at their wit's end with him. The former pastor followed them as they left the church, continuing to cajole them for donations to keep the mission alive. This I realize is a manifestation of my own belief that the former Pastor was more adept at community development, that he was at shepherding.
I'm still not sure what to take away from the dream, if anything. I did like that I was nicer to my Mom in the dream. I also liked that I kept my opinions to myself and let other people express themselves freely. I liked that I was able to see what was happening and appreciate both sides of the events. I like that my waking self thinks it unnecessary for someone to be "qualified" by degrees and doctorates to preach the gospel of Christ. ( If one reads Matthew 22:35 - 40, doesn't Jesus give us the distilled and concentrated message of the gospel: Love, first God and secondly our neighbor and ourselves?) I wish that my unconscious had a kinder view of my former pastor. I wish that I hadn't been so rude to Miss Annie in my dream. First and foremost, I am glad I remembered so much of the content and nuance of the dream. I think that somehow it's important. I'm just not sure in what way. But I trust that God will make his/her will known and allow me to continue to decipher any meanings that are important.