The Apostle Peter declared at Pentecost what the prophet Joel said would become standard, that “all believers will be empowered to prophesy, to dream what will come next,” said the Rev. Traci Blackmon. “The Spirit will be poured out and all people will be prophets.”
Blackmon preached at the 9:15 a.m. EDT morning devotional Monday, July 6, on CHQ Assembly. Her sermon title was “Where Are the Dreamers?” The scripture text was Acts 2:17, in which Peter is quoting Joel 2:28 (NRSV).
“‘In the last days it will be, God / declares / that I will pour out my Spirit upon / all flesh / and your sons and your / daughters shall prophesy, / and your young men shall see / visions, / and your old men shall dream / dreams.’”
“Where have all the dreamers gone?” Blackmon asked.
In Moses’ time, only a few people were anointed to be prophets. But when Moses got tired, God appointed 70 men to surround the camp of the Israelites and the Spirit came down upon them. It even came down on two men who refused to join the circle around the camp.
Blackmon cited Sister Antona Ebo, of the St. Mary Franciscan order in St. Louis, who was one of the subjects of the PBS documentary “Sisters of Selma.”
Ebo was the only Black nun to join the marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The bridge is named for a former Confederate general and grand dragon of the Klu Klux Klan.
As the only Black nun, she stood out in her traditional habit, and she expressed a lot of anxiety about joining those on the bridge, Blackmon said.
“She knew that the march planners had done what they could to secure her safety and to tell everyone what the arrest protocols would be. But her internal (fear) was about being separated from the other nuns if she was arrested because she was Black,” Blackmon said.
Despite her fear, Ebo decided to show up, said Blackmon. Like others, she dared to place her life at risk because she could envision a world where everyone mattered.
“Ebo asked ‘Where are all the dreamers?,’ just like Marvin McMickle asked ‘Where Have All the Prophets Gone?’,” Blackmon said. “She asked this question 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act, after Obama was elected president. She still had that question, not about her generation, but about now.”
Blackmon continued, “We need prophetic dreamers to speak love in the midst of war, to preach unity without us all having to be the same.”
God spoke often in dreams to Joseph, Deborah, David and Solomon, and provided wisdom and hope to the people of Israel.
“Where are our dreamers? They are trying to envision a better world while awake. As the young people say, ‘Stay woke,’” she said. Think of Medgar Evers, Fanny Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Ella Baker, Abraham Joshua Heshel.
“I see people rising up all over to imagine a world where all people are free to be,” Blackmon said. “In Black Lives Matter, caring for the earth, women’s rights, getting a living wage.”
She continued, “When dreamers rise up, the earth will cease its groaning. There will be equitable wages and we will do away with racist laws. People are gathered all over the web, in virtual space, dreamers of every age, gender, sexuality, culture and faith who know there is a better way.”
There may be those people who cannot see a different future, who call us “thugs, riotous and unpatriotic,” she told the congregation. “They think militarized police can stop us, that they can misapply scripture. They are the systems. They are those who cannot dream.”
We will come in the name of love, justice and equality, Blackmon said, “with dreams of a better world, one of peace, not violence; of prayer, not vitriol.”
She asked the congregation, “Can you see beyond the moment, see the world of dreams? Where are the dreamers? It is time to rise up, and we do not rise up alone.”
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, vice president for religion and senior pastor of Chautauqua Institution, presided from the Hall of Christ. Joshua Stafford, interim organist for Chautauqua Institution, played the Tallman Tracker Organ. Michael Miller, a Chautauqua Opera Apprentice Artist, served as vocal soloist. The organ prelude, performed by Stafford, was an improvisation. Miller sang the hymn, “Breathe on Me, Breath of God.” The anthem was “Fountain Reverie,” by Percy Fletcher. Stafford played an improvisation for the postlude. This program is made possible by the Mr. and Mrs. William Uhler Follansbee Memorial Chaplaincy and the Robert D. Campbell Memorial Chaplaincy Fund.