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On Sunday, the dreams of 14 boys came true as the El Segundo Little League team won the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. They won in dramatic fashion with Louis Lappe hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the final 6th inning to beat Curaco 6-5. Monday, the town of El Segundo, CA turned out to cheer their young champions- 1000s lining the streets of their quiet little borough just south of LAX airport. El Segundo is a neighborhood community, with tree-lined streets, and sidewalk cafes where the owner greets you at the door. A quick walk can take you to the lookout where you can watch planes take off at LAX. A run in the other direction will lead you down to the beach to watch the sun set into the ocean. Our friends have lived in El Segundo for 20 years and they are still considered the new kids on the block. People know each other in their little enclave, neighbors care about each other, so the excitement of the win is shared by the whole community. The mayor celebrated the boys, saying: “This is the biggest achievement of your lives. Your dreams have come true. But this is just the beginning…” Today, those boys are back in school.

Our boys from Media, PA had the same dream, and their dream took them all the way to Williamsport to share in the Little League World Series this year. A week ago, the Phillies travelled to Williamsport to watch the hometown team take on Rhode Island. It was a well fought battle, but after 6 innings, Media fell to the Rhode Island team 7-2. Bryce Harper, one of the super stars on the Phillies, said he had ‘goosebumps’ as he watched the boys play. After the game, Harper stayed behind to talk to the team. He told them, “I know how you feel… just like we felt when we lost the World Series.” A very emotional Harper continued, “This is just a stepping-stone to great dreams… pick up right here and you’ll be great.” Harper wanted the boys to see that every dream comes in a series of steps. And even when you accomplish the dream, like the boys from El Segundo, that accomplishment just sets you up for the next dream and the next.

For many, dreams are best defined by Disney. Think of Cinderella in the original Disney classic, singing to her animal friends:
A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep…
Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through…
If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.
In this understanding, dreams are mere wishes… human aspirations… parental expectations… societal goals… for grandeur and success. Sometimes, those wishes take-on life in spectacular ways that surprise us and send us down a parade route with 1000s of our cheering neighbors celebrating a dream come true. And sometimes, those wishes meet the reality of life and we go home early from the tournament to watch other teams win the trophy. Hopefully, even those failed dreams do not stop us, but become stepping-stones for more dreams along the path. Dreams can be powerful motivators, or they can crush us in defeat.

On Monday, August 28th crowds gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of a dream. Sixty years ago, crowds marched to Washington, D.C to hear Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preach from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In true Southern Baptist style, he started out slow and measured, yet with each line he picked up intensity. Soon the cadence of the sermon took shape, not as the words on the page dictated, but as God’s Spirit inspired. “I have a dream today…”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves
and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together
at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day “every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight,
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
(Isaiah 40)
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together,
to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together,
knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Sixty years ago, King declared this dream as a clarion call to a nation, not as a wish or some human aspiration, but as a prayerful, biblically-inspired vision of God’s call. For sixty years, our fellow citizens have worked to enable our nation to live into that godly call. There have been many strides to celebrate in the march toward a sweet land of liberty. Yet, Saturday’s tragedy in Jacksonville, when a man motivated by racist hate entered a Dollar General Store with an AR-15 and took three innocent lives, reminds us that the dream is far from realized. When we look at our leaders and those who would aspire to leadership, do we see the content of character that demonstrates a godly determination to continue the work? Are we willing to strive together toward a land where freedom is a shared reality for all Americans? This dream, this prayerful, biblically-inspired dream, must not fall to the wayside like some long lost wish. It must be our shared commitment, until all can sing together: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

With you committed to God’s dream,
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