If the title has thinking of Kermit the frog singing 'The Rainbow Connection' well what can I say, it gives away your age.
On Sunday evening I watched the TV programme charting the story of Susan Boyle's roller-coater ride through Britain's Got Talent to the triple platinum (which I 'm fairly sure when I was a teenager wold have been a gold) disc for 1 million sales of her album. As I watched I thought she still seemed incredibly vulnerable and I was left hoping someone will really look out for her when the fuss dies away and she has to get on with the reality. I was also drawn into some end of year reflecting, not least because long before I'd heard of Susan Boyle, I had used her signature song, 'I dreamed a dream' in a worship service at Dibley as we faced the reality of the shattering of some of the congregational dreams and began to face a very uncertain future.
Susan Boyle is about 18 months older than me and grew up in a very different culture and with very different expectations. She dared to dream a dream of being a professional singer despite the odds being stacked against her almost from the outset. People who grow up in council houses don't do that, least of all if they have mild learning difficulties and live with their mums. But she did. And there are small parallels many of us can find as we, too, grew up in council-owned homes and refused to be defined by the low-aspirations of our neighbours or the stereo-typed expectations of media. People who grow up in council houses don't (or didn't then) go to university, let alone come top of the year...
When I went to Dibley I had great dreams of what we might achieve together, and I am sure they too had high hopes of what I might bring. We spent a season together and achieved a lot of great stuff as well as facing countless challenges but, as the song says, 'there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather.' I used the song to shape a sermon and some prayers when it became evident that things had to change. For that reason it is a song I always associate with standing in the hall of a primary school ona Sunday afternoon in February. Almost a year on, we have all moved on, we have faced the challenges and discovered their outworking. I am now very happily settled in my new church, starting to dream new dreams and seek God's leading for a new chapter. My old church is in the hands of a caring and experienced moderator who will guide them gently on their way.
This morning I dug out the words I wrote back in February to use at the end of a sermon in which we had expressed hope in struggle and confidence in the God of new creation...
True, there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
But if Christ is at our side
At least we’ll face these things together
We have a hope that keeps us strong:
The promise of a new creation
Until then we’ll walk by faith –
And trust in One who keeps their promise:
An end to death and tears and pain
An endless spring of living water
Forever in the love of God:
The dream which keeps our hope alive!
For me, 2009 is ending well. Life is upbeat with lots of hope. But I'm not naive or daft enough to expect 2010 (and beyond) to be a stroll in the park either. I am glad of the poets - the ancient psalmists, the song writers and lyricists - and the dreamers - the ancient prophets and Susan Boyles - who help me to pause and reflect, to learn and to grow. Maybe Kermit wasn't so far out after all - the rainbow connection, the promises of our wonderful God - are found by holding together insights from the poet, the dreamer and me!