What is the American Dream? The answer to that question has definitely changed over the generations. Many people would say that the American dream is about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are good things when used properly. However, when they are distorted they can become expressions of selfishness unfettered.
This past week I saw a video titled “What is a Trader?” It was produced by Rightnow media. This provocative video stated that many of us in the United States have become hijacked by a distorted version of the American Dream that cries out, “Me, Me, Me!” and “More, More, More!”
This distortion becomes very clear during this time of year. Black Friday is now Dark Thursday night. Retailers are already peddling their goods, playing upon consumer desires to sell the next and greatest version of their product. Our consumerist culture cranks up to a frenetic pace during this season. We become competitive and aggressive shoppers. We plan parties to outdo our neighbors and long for nostalgic moments that will enhance the holiday experience.
I was discussing the Trader video with a group of parents this week and I asked them if the distorted American dream was a reality in their lived experience. They responded with a resounding, “Yes!” I then asked them a question that I would like to pose to you, the reader of this article…
“What is God’s Dream?”
That is the question that Advent asks. Advent is a countercultural time. When the distorted American dream reaches fever pitch with hot red and vibrant green lights, the church slows down into deep blue. Advent is a time when we join the people of Israel and ask, “What is God’s dream for the world?”
God dreams for a time when peace reigns, when the lion lays down with lamb. The prophets painted a picture of a Messiah who would turn the world upside down with a radical call to peace and justice on earth.
This Advent, I encourage you to dream with God. Take time to go into the deep darkness of silence, contemplation, and expectant prayer. Resist the temptation to run with the Christmas rat-race that chases the distorted American Dream. This Advent, let’s dream God’s dream, together.