By The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry
It is not known for sure, but some scholars theorize that the Book of Joshua was composed during the exile of the Jews in Babylon. Others suggest that it was written during the period the Persian dislocation, when a small community of Jews were exiled under the rule of the Persian Empire. In either case, it is possible that the Book of Joshua was written when the Jewish people of God were in exile, without a home, lost in lands not their own. I can only imagine how I would hear these stories of Joshua distributing the land to the various tribes of those who formerly had no home. Imagine hearing that your ancestors were given land by Joshua, with God guiding Joshua in the distribution. Imagine. Imagine. Imagine.
What appears to be narrative of the land distribution in the Book of Joshua would likely have been heard as a hymn of hope. A hymn quickening of the imagination to dream beyond the reality of what is and in the direction of what God dreams and intends for the human family and all creation. Imagine.
George Bernard Shaw had it right when he said, “Some men see things as they are and ask, why? I dream things that never were and ask, why not? Only those who dream, those who imagine, those who, as the old Spiritual sings, “look over Jordan,” find the courage to pray and labor for a different, a new, a better world a new and different self. Imagine.
That’s what Jesus was teaching Nicodemus. “You must be born anew, again, from above,” he says(John 3:3). And Nicodemus replies, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” And Jesus points to the Spirit, to the Kingdom of Heaven, to the ultimate horizon and reality of God. New birth. New possibility. New heaven. New earth. Imagine.
Dear Lord, help me this day to see beyond what is, and to behold your dream for what is meant to be. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry’s is the XI Bishop of North Carolina.