In the dream, I was sitting in what seemed to be an Episcopal Church. It was packed. The congregation was racially diverse. There seemed to be a 50/50 split between men and women. And there were some children in the congregation also. What I didn't really notice until later is that everyone seemed to be dressed up in suits and dresses from perhaps the late 1940s.
There seemed to be no preacher, but parishioners were taking turns ascending to the top of the chancel steps and addressing the church. They were "testifying" ... telling what the Lord had done for them. I heard one or two brief testimonies of the usual variety (e.g., God gave me a job this week, God healed my sister). Then a shabbily dressed man climbed the stairs and began to speak in an emotional voice. The congregation got a bit quieter to listen, seeming to sense something different about to happen. The man had a full dress suit on, but it was worn and dirty. He held a hat of questionable provenance in his left hand as he talked. He began to speak.
"I'm sixty years old. I've made a complete wreck out of my life. Everything I've ever dreamed has turned to dust. My life has been one bad decision after another, nothing but wrong turns. I wish I could say what the Lord has done for me, but I can't. I'm giving up now. I'm quitting. I thought you would want to know."The man stood silent, fumbling with his worn hat in both hands, apparently trying to figure out what to do next, now that he had got his message out. The congregation was completely hushed. I counted three seconds of silence before a little girl of perhaps six stood up behind me and to my left. She shouted at him,
"Wait! Don't give up, Mister! I asked you into my heart, and it changed my life. I believe in you!"There was only about one second of silence after she said this, but my mind was reeling. I was thinking of all that was wrong, heretical, and humanistic about the little girl's speech.
"Nobody can be our Savior except Jesus!"
"That's idolatrous ... asking some other mere human into our hearts."
"What a ridiculous thing: putting our faith in another mere human."
The silence was broken decisively by someone absolutely tearing into a bass beat on a piano. It was a barrelhouse blues style, and I thought: "Yep, it is an Episcopal Church." The piano part was a series of four descending notes, twice repeated. And then, power and fury rocked the church. As the piano neared the end of its eight introductory notes, everyone in the congregation stood and sang very loudly:
"Eucharist! Eucharist!You shall not dare to eat,Until you see Lord JesusIn every man you meet!"
It was wild. They were all professional caliber singers. The music was like that of an old black spiritual, and I felt suddenly that I was in the middle of a Broadway musical. I looked around for movie cameras, to see if this was being filmed. The song rolled on (I could write more lyrics, but I'd be inventing them at this point), supported by the boogie-woogie piano playing. People started clapping their hands. Even the white people clapped on the backbeat.
I was thinking: "Okay, I get it. This is one of those Episcopal Church "inclusivity" things, and they're filming a commercial to try and make me recognize some spark of the divine in every living soul. Or maybe these are some really rocking Quakers, trying to convince me of the doctrine of the Inner Light. It seemed a humanistic (that's a bad word where I come from, in case you were wondering) message to me. Sure, I've heard sermons (even from non-heretical preachers) indicating that I should treat all people as I would treat Jesus. It's written right there into the Lord's own words in his narration of Judgment Day.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?But I felt that I knew manipulation when I saw it. And this just seemed very manipulative, very theatrical.
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
But the more the music went on, the more I believed that God was trying to get something across to me. I noticed that I was the only one that wasn't singing, who didn't know the song. It certainly seemed that I was the intended audience.
I don't know how long the song went on before I woke up, but it was one of those "woke up in a cold sweat" moments. Something powerful had been shown to me. I will ponder it often.