We find ourselves at the beginning of March.

Powers that be will soon have us change our clocks again. Ash Wednesday is coming up and Christendom moves forward to celebrate new life.

Many will observe the practice of Lent, albeit some from a distance during these next six weeks. New life will be celebrated in other ways, as spring will come.

Even now, we notice the longer days and the various birds returning to the area.

Did you, in your wildest dreams 20 years ago, predict where you are now?

I suspect not.

“The future’s not ours to see” were the words of a song long ago, way more than 50 years, but that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming. As individuals, we make plans and work on them, revise them occasionally, and abandon them when forced.

We ask young people what they want to be when they grow up, and try to steer them in productive directions. Yet an alarming number of us change careers several times in our lives and do things we never imagined in our youth.

As a nation, as a world, we have accomplished great things by dreaming, then working together to make dreams into reality. Sometimes, though, reality comes to us and we didn’t dream it, nor did we work to make it happen.

We are grateful for some of it, but other parts are disturbing at least. We continue to have alarming rates of death by malnutrition and curable disease. We continue to battle cancer and AIDS.

Are we making progress? What is progress?

I am sure there are many ideas of what defines “progress,” some of them contradictory to one another. Perhaps that is why there is so much conflict — we have various dreams, and in working for our dreams, we spoil the dreams of others.

Every Olympic athlete had a dream. Sadly, most of them did not become reality. So, is there an encouraging word to be heard?

Emanuel, God-is-with-us, has promised to be present. We are not alone. God, too, is dreaming, and working, and waiting to see what the future brings.

Will we remain faithful to our dreams of love and peace or will we abandon them? Will we love our neighbors or will we take advantage of them for our own earthly profit? 

Will we let justice prevail, will every tear be dried, will hope not be in vain?

God is present in the world. God is present in our little corners of it. God can and does bless people in all sorts of situations with love and mercy.

Thanks be to God that holiness can be known and experienced. Thanks be to God for love and mercy making a difference even in these days.

God gives us reason to worship for God is present.