Summary: God communicates through visions and dreams.
THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
September 23, 2007 Proper 20C
The Rev. M. Anthony Seel, Jr.
St. Andrew’s Anglican Church
Jackie Pullinger was five years old when a missionary spoke to her Sunday School class. The missionary pointed at Jackie and her twin sister, saying, "And could God want you on the Mission Field?" Jackie remembers thinking, "The answer to that question cannot be ‘no’ because, or course, God wants everyone on the Mission Field." [Chasing the Dragon, p. ]
At five years of age, she had no idea what a Mission Field was, but she told a friend that she wanted to be a missionary. It wasn’t long before everyone knew about Jackie’s sense of calling. In Boarding School, and then the Royal Academy of Music, Jackie held onto her sense of calling. As she neared graduation from music school, Jackie wrote to mission societies in Africa and not one wanted her.
Then none night she had a dream. In her dream she saw her family crowded around their dining room table. On the table was a map of Africa, and in the middle of Africa was a pink-colored country. In the dream, Jackie leaned in to see the name of the country and she discovered that it was Hong Kong.
"Aah," she said, "I never knew Hong Kong was there."
"Yes, of course, it is, didn’t you know?" replied her Aunt Dotty in a condescending tone.
After this, Jackie Pullinger contacted the Hong Kong government and a missionary society, but to no avail.
She couldn’t understand any of this, and she went to a small church nearby to pray. As she prayed, Jackie had a vision of "a woman - holding out her arms, as if requesting help - something like a refugee poster." Jackie wondered what this woman wanted.
Then she saw words like a scroll across a television screen - "What Can You Give Us?"
Jackie thought about this. What could she give? Her ability to play piano or oboe? Could she pass on to others the education that she had received? Was she called to distribute food or money or clothing? She thought about the woman in the vision and came to understand that if she were fed she’d only get hungry again. Jackie says,
"Then it came to me that what she needed was the love of Jesus; if she
received that, then when I left her she would be full and, even better, she
would be able to share it with other people." Chasing the Dragon, pp. 23- 29
What do we make of dreams and visions?
In our lesson from Daniel today, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a dream. He calls together his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and Chaldeans - those expert in interpreting psychic phenomena. By the way, Chaldeans is translated astrologers in the New International Version of the Bible. All of these persons are supposedly able to understand and explain dreams and visions, but Nebuchadnezzar adds a special condition to this case. He demands that his sages tell him the dream and then interpret it.
The sages were alarmed at this demand and they protested.
Daniel 2: 7b-9 (ESV)
"Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation."
The king answered and said, "I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm--
if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation."
At this, the sages protested even more vigorously.
The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean.
The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."
Only sages protested than only the gods could do what the king was demanding.
Not long after she received the vision of a woman asking, "What Can You Give Us?" Jackie
Pullinger met up with Richard, a Christian man she knew who asked if God had given her any
specifics related to the vision that she had received. Jackie admitted that she hadn’t gotten any
answer to her prayers for details, and he invited her to a prayer meeting at his church.
Jackie reports that at the prayer meeting she heard a woman speaking quietly and this is what
she heard: "Go.
"Trust me, and I will lead you. I will instruct you and teach you in the way