Disney fairytales are well known for not only their animation, but their whimsical, catchy music as well. Knowing the Disney classics means knowing the popular songs found in Cinderella, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty. We hear a common theme in these enduring lullabies, best represented in the lyrics sung by Cinderella to her animal friends,
A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
And this one sung by Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio,
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
I am sure even at the mention of these lyrics, the songs are already drifting through your mind, as they are mine. The lyrics speak to the idea that if we want something enough, if we wish for it enough, it will come true. Combined with the dreamy music, it is easy to be lulled into imagining that these statements are true. That’s all we really have to do in order to usher in our most longed for realities, right?
If you’ve been watching or listening to the news this week, you have probably heard some talk of dreams dashed and wishful thinking unable to withstand reality. You may have also felt either to be true. According to Disney, you must not have wished on the right star or desired it enough. According to Disney, maybe it is better for us to stay in our dreams, where wishes come true and all heartaches are lost. Yet, I think we all know that this is not true, no matter how nice it may sound.
So, we wake up. And through wide, awake eyes, we are no longer filled with dreamy detachment, but faith and hope derived from a reality not of our own making but ordered and transformed by the God of all. This reality hurts. But the only way we can truly live into the reality of our faith means seeing the pain, grief, and ugliness as it truly is.
Stepping forward in this faith begins with the cry of grief. We cry into the face of a culture that pretends everything is fine. We scream at “the power of positive thinking” and against the cultural lull to sleep and dream hard enough to make everything okay. We grieve over all that has been lost, twisted, and murdered for the comfort of a few. In our act of crying out we give this reality to God. We let go of our false sense of control and release it to God, expecting an answer.
God. Do something.
In this cry, this call to God, our voices join all who have cried out to God in the past. We wait for God’s reply with expectation. God’s answer meets us in the present moment in order to bring us forward, to the future, which is always held by God. God’s reality sets the path through the chaotic sea raging around us, through the wilderness, and to a reality shaped by justice, compassion, transformation, and renewal. So, we cry out to God and step forward in faith.
Faith is not as an achievement or, a “wish your heart makes.” It is engagement in the reality of God at work throughout history, in this current moment, and in God’s promised future. Engagement comes in many forms but is always embodied by imperfect people wide awake and alive, living into God’s reality.
As we continue to shake the sleep from our eyes and awaken to the reality of the world around us, be grounded in the gifts of hope and faith. Everything is not fine and that’s okay. God is good. So cry it out. Invoke God’s name in the call for freedom and justice. Step forward together, in faith. God is with us.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Let us pray...
God, our spirits sigh in exhaustion. We mourn the loss of so many lives, we mourn the loss of so many plans and dreams, we mourn… We lift up those who know pain and suffering in the way we never will, we lift up those who lack the power or freedom to raise their voices, we lift up the meek… We are hungry and malnourished. Our bodies lack sustenance. Our spirits are parched. We thirst for your righteousness to reign. Thank you for those who model mercy. Return us to the way of mercy. Purify our hearts, minds, and perspectives to see you in our midst. Thank you for those who make and embody peace in our streets. Lead us to make peace wherever we are. It is in Christ – not our achievements, perfect words, or actions – that makes us righteous. Embolden us to embody Christ wherever we are, no matter the provocation. May your kingdom come, your will be done. Amen.