I’m sure you are familiar with the main parts of the Christmas story…the angels, the shepherds, the wise men, and of course Jesus born in a stable…Most of us have heard the story many times, most likely starting with our first performance in the school nativity play!
But what isn’t so well known is how dreams played such a massive part in the Christmas narrative:
Joseph was engaged to Mary, but when he found out that Mary was pregnant, having not slept with her, he decided to call the marriage off quietly, as he didn’t want to publicly disgrace her…But then he had a dream!
In the dream, an angel appeared to Joseph, and told him that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit, and not to be afraid to marry her. He was also given the name of his child to be, which means ‘The Lord Saves’. When Joseph woke up, he took it all on board and a few weeks later, he’d married Mary, their son was born in Bethlehem, and Joseph named him Jesus! All because he paid attention to a dream!
The wise men rocked up and gave their gifts to Jesus, to honour this new born Saviour. Afterwards, they were going to head home via the king’s palace, but they had a dream! In their dream, God warned them not to go back to King Herod, so they went home via another route, meaning that Herod wasn’t told the new King’s location, so His assassins wouldn’t easily be able to find Jesus. Disaster averted…because of a dream!
After everyone had gone, and Joseph and Mary were wondering what to do and where to go, Joseph had another dream. Again, an angel appeared to him in the dream and told him to flee with his family to Egypt to escape Herod who was still desperate to kill Jesus. So they relocated to a whole new country…because of a dream!
Each dream initiated a change of events enabling the dreamers and those closest to them to avoid calamity and ultimately to fulfil their God given future… dreams played a huge part in one of the most significant events of all time… and they can play a huge part in our lives too! God is still looking to get our attention, and He still speaks through our dreams today. Are we listening?
I am not suggesting that every single dream we have is from God, but when we realise that God hides things for us, not from us, very often God can give us understanding of even the weird and wonderful dreams! It’s worth saying at this point that some dreams can be dark and disturbing, but I believe that God also wants to set us free from these nightmares and night terrors.
Dreams can be literal or symbolic i.e., needing interpreting, and through them God can speak to us about our past, our present, give us new ideas and wisdom, solutions to our problems, and even reveal our future.
Dreams have an amazing ability to get under our radar, past our natural sensibilities and speak straight to our hearts. Sometimes, God can speak radical and deep truths to our hearts which we wouldn’t consider entertaining when we’re awake, but dreams can sidestep our natural understanding while we’re asleep.
I personally have had dreams that have resulted in radical changes in my life. Once, I dreamt about starting work in a completely different field, which I had absolutely no experience in. Within a couple of weeks, I was presented with the opportunity, and I went for it because of the dream, and it went on to become a profitable business.
There is so much that God has to say to us. Are we listening? Why not visit Chanctonbury Church this Christmas to find out more about what God is saying to you?
James Petersen worships at Ashington Church with his wife Dani and two young sons.