Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Warm and Friendly Dream

My dear friend Rev. Steve Pieters brings out the "warm and friendly" in me 
when he took this photo over dinner in L.A. in the fall of 2016.
On his Facebook page he points out the dove on my shoulder!

The morning I am writing this, I awoke at 2:30 a.m., and my mind started bouncing around. I remembered it was my parents’ birthdays, born on the same day one year apart. I gave thanks in prayer for them, then said the Lord’s Prayer, all silently, in my heart as well as my head. As sometimes happens, the prayers “rested” me back to sleep.

And I had a comforting dream.

It began as a funeral, but morphed into a wedding. It began at a church, but morphed into a large living room in a home with family history, not mine, but that of either the bride or groom, and the father of one of them explained what it had meant to the family after the divorce. I knew a few of the people, but in a distant way, as those I might see occasionally. We sat comfortably around the perimeter of the living room on sofas and chairs.

I was the officiant. I felt inadequately prepared, but went with the flow. I’ve written before that I am often working in my dreams, but this was not heavy duty, rather, relaxed and comfortable. To pad the service, given that I had prepared no homily, I began asking the family members about their experience with marriage. The wedding became a kind of group therapy.

As I indicated, the parents of one of the couple were divorced, but both were in attendance and friendly with one another. The other parents had had a long and satisfying marriage. As I encouraged them to speak of their relationships, one of the guests said, not rudely, “Shouldn’t we be about the service? That’s what we came for.” Probably this represented another part of me, schedule and goal oriented, a contrast to the casual part that was enjoying the conversation.

The brother of one of the principals explained that he and his husband, sitting beside him on a sofa, had recently decided to “open” their relationship, and he assumed that I, as a minister, would disapprove. I explained, to the contrary, that I believed every couple had to make their own choices on how to live out their commitment.

“Marriage is hard,” I said, “And a lifelong marriage is tougher still. Isn’t it helpful for married couples to share their experience with the couple being married today?”

And that was how the dream ended. Part way through the dream, I awoke, but fell asleep again, resuming the dream where I had left off, something I don’t recall happening before. Maybe because it was a warm and friendly place.

Of course, with dreams, I usually try to figure out what might have prompted the various parts. Yesterday I read a very satisfying belated Christmas letter from someone I had worked alongside in the church, and it was all about his family, his second wife and her siblings, their separate children and grandchildren. And recently, I had learned a gay couple, friends of ours, had decided to open up their relationship. So that helps account for some of the ingredients.

And the comfortable conversation about all this? Where did that come from?

I’ve written a much visited post about the death of my neighborhood church a few years back, Ormewood Park Presbyterian. I had stopped attending before I began serving other churches. It was not because I did not like the people, it’s that I thought it a terrible waste that we worshiped in the “traditional” pattern, when in fact, I thought we should be talking together about what makes life work for us, what our faith means, and so on.

Now Wade and I have been attending Ormewood Church, a new church start in the same place, in which a part of the service is dedicated to small groups, given a question for the day that relates to the worship. As an introvert, I find this challenging, but as a concept, I find this closer to what a spiritual community should be about. And we’re getting to know our neighbors in a whole new way. No doubt this is the predecessor to the warm and friendly place I experienced in the dream, a place that invites conversation about meaningful things, like marriage.

This will seem a non-sequitur, but I thought of an article I had read earlier in the week by a woman who had anticipated difficulty sleeping in the days following a laparoscopic surgery. She wanted a painkiller, but her doctors in Germany resisted, recommending simple ibuprofen, one telling her that “The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. … All you need is rest.”

She explains she knows how to sleep, but not how to rest. Almost Zen-like her anesthesiologist tells her, “Drink a cup of coffee, slowly. And whatever you do, do not get it in a to-go cup. You must sit in one place and enjoy this cup, slowly.”

On my own I am fairly good at “resting in God,” Augustine’s stated spiritual goal, but resting in spiritual community is quite another challenge.

The link in the post takes you to Ormewood Church’s website. For its Facebook page, go to

Your donations are my ministry’s only means of support. This blog continues to be free. But I could sure use donations right now. Thanks, Chris

Go to:
Be sure to scroll down to the donate link below its description.

Or mail to MCC, P.O. Box 50488, Sarasota FL 34232 USA, designating “Progressive Christian Reflections” in the memo area of your check or money order.

Copyright © 2018 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.  


  1. J. Barrie Shepherd gave me permission to share this comment he made to me personally:

    You gave me a lot to think about with your idea today that traditional worship is a "waste." As an introvert, like you, I have great resistance to "enforced" intimacy as worship -"Fake News - Fake Fellowship." Traditional worship is bred into my Scots Presbyterian roots. I find my intimacy fully there in the spontaneous joy - and sadness too - of the psalms and hymns, (to sing the 23rd psalm to Crimond in the heart, the very heart, of a Scots kirk!), the resounding wonder, judgment and grace of the ancient words of Scripture, the communal inquiry, insight, or even puzzlement of the sermon, the bonds expressed, experienced in the many and necessary forms of prayer - confession, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, the overall sense of being linked, not only to this present assembly, but to generations past, present and future, the wide and welcoming embrace of the Call, the eternal, yet most present and universal comfort and assurance of the Aaronic Benediction.
    Growing up in the solemn, and perhaps to an outsider cold and impersonal dignity, of the Kirk of Scotland's Sabbath ordinances
    I have never since felt quite as close to the eternal, or as much a part of the whole family of God.
    This is not meant as a rebuke, Chris, but as a friendly but honest disagreement.

    1. I think I misstated or overstated my case. I agree with Barrie that when we are fully engaged, as worshipers and worship leaders, traditional worship can be all that it is meant to be, a spiritually strengthening communal experience with God, with the sacred. But when we do it by rote rather than with feeling, as so often happens, we miss a lot. What was missing for me were opportunities to share our personal spiritual experiences. Thanks to Barrie for this corrective!

  2. Chris, I thought I would point out that Billy Graham shared your view with regard to worship. Traditional worship lends itself to detaching oneself from the act of worship when it becomes so familiar. We sing the words by rote and don’t think about the words we are singing.

    1. Thanks, Kelsey! Sorry for the delay in publishing your comment. I sometimes take a day or two off from the internet. Glad for your comment about Billy Graham--didn't know we were in sync that way. Next week's post has to do with this thinking about worship, including a reference to Billy Graham, written before this recent post was published. Synchronicity!