I've only been asleep about an hour tonight, but I have already been given a powerful and exhiliarating Christmas gift.
It was a dream, and unlike any dream I've had before.
I dreamed I was at morning worship in my home church, but the circumstances were very unusual. For one thing, the power was off and it was a little chilly inside the building (it often is in real life!) and there were no lights or sound or amplifiers or speakers or PowerPoints running. (I think this part of my dream is something I've actually wished would happen.)
But I don't think I would have specifically wished for what happened next in the dream. A dear friend of mine - a gifted worship leader, especially in song but also in speaking - stood up and began animatedly addressing the east wall of the worship center. As if blind to the rest of us, he began adjuring it to echo the praise of God brought forth by all creation and listen to the words that would be shared - and if hearts of stone did not melt as a result, he said, "I might as well be talking to a brick wall." Then he sat down.
What was even more extraordinary about it was that my friend did not stutter. Usually he does when he speaks, even when his thoughts are truly inspired; only when he sings does the stutter completely disappear. Then, as often happens in dreams, I somehow deduced that he must have been singing.
My preaching minister was speaking next in the course of the dream, and it seemed as if he was singing as well. In real life, he does not like to be heard singing. I'm not even sure if he sings well; I'm not sure I've ever heard him. Yet in this dream, he was pouring out his heart to the rest of us in a kind of song, and it was having its effect. Hearts of stone were melting, and tears flowing. Seven young people - unwilling to wait the time it took to change clothes or take turns or even let him finish his message - went to the baptistry and immersed themselves as a group, arms about each others' shoulders ... and the response from the church was thunderous; there was applause and there were cheers and shouts of "Hallelujah!" that would have been deafening at ALLTEL Arena but seemed quite comfortable and comforting and warming in this dream.
Then, spontaneously, everyone began singing "Holy Ground," and before we had reached the part of of the song that says so, I knew solidly and incontrovertibly that the Spirit of the Lord was in this place - and the thrill of this faithless, confident knowledge was absolutely electrifying.
I awakened all of a sudden at that point, my heart still racing.
It's slowed back to normal now. Reality has returned.
I'll get up and go to church in about eight hours. We will sing carols and hymns and speak and listen to a message about the birth of our Savior.
I don't know what else will happen there.
I don't know what to expect.
I suspect I will be anticipating something more than I usually experience, though; and I will be aware of a Presence I too often miss.
And if I don't fall back to sleep right away now, it may well be due to the fact that I'm praying for God's Spirit to fall on us all this Christmas Day.