The Power of Imagination
Do you remember the old song “Imagination”? The melody (written by Jimmy Van Heusen) is one that is easy to remember and one that can repeat itself over and over again in your head. The lyrics (written by Johnny Burke) say that imagination is funny, crazy and silly. It also says that imagination can make “a cloudy day sunny;” and “your whole perspective gets hazy, starts you asking a daisy what to do.” It becomes very clear by the end of the song that imagination can turn you and your relationships into possibilities if two or more people are imagining the same thing.
I content that we as Christians must be imaginative in our approach to being followers of Jesus and our work for justice, peace and love. This means that there will be times that we are called “crazy” for being willing to imagine the newness that God has promised. This does not mean that we will spend our time living in a fantasy world. Bur it does mean that we will as people that have experienced the risen Christ and the freedom comes from him. That freedom brings responsibility for the needs of the world; a freedom that allows us to do and to become all that God intends; and a freedom that takes its direction form the Holy Spirit and not from our own passions and ambitions.
In the Biblical story of the Hebrew people one can’t help but notice the imaginative thinking that had to take place as they went about doing what God required. For instance Sarah had a hard time imagining being a mother at her age; Moses took instructions not from a daisy, but from a burning bush; during the journey in the desert the Hebrews couldn’t believe that God could or would provide them with daily manna. The prophets wrote poetry in order to help the people imagine the world that was possible with God as their God. The poetry of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel painted pictures of a new reality that invited the people to participate in living in a truly new age. Their poetry still invites us to experience that newness of God. And of course Jesus told stories that required his hearers then and now to imagine a different type of world and a faith that is available to everyone.
We too must allow the space necessary for imaginative thinking, for dreaming, for being creative. We must give up the seven last words, “we have always done it this way” and let our imaginations soar with the Spirit that can fill us with power, resolve and a daring imagination of what might be. We must be willing to be blown away by the Spirit into our world in such a way that will bring all kinds of wonders and surprises; that will stir up believers to take actions that they never they could do; and to be foolish, crazy or silly people for the sake of Christ and the Kin-dom
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.