by Paul Hess
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5
To demonstrate the importance of the imagination within the Christian understanding of hope.
Preparation and materials
- A recording of ‘Imagine’by John Lennon and the means to play it would enhance the assembly, but you can just use the quote below if you wish.
- Play the first 90 seconds of ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon.
- Quote the lyrics:
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace . . .
It is little wonder that Rolling Stone magazine rated this song – John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ –the third best song of all time. It is so powerful and moving because it seems to evoke that most powerful of human qualities – the capacity to dream. The capacity to go beyond – in the mind and spirit – the limitations placed on us, the capacity to imagine, the capacity to hope.
- Great achievements are usually preceded by a leap of the imagination. To develop a vision is the first step in making something a reality. This is true of technological innovations and the great inventions of the modern era. Rare individuals with incredible foresight were able to visualize the telephone, aeroplane, television and the Internet long before they became a commonplace reality for the rest of us. Invention starts with the words, ‘Imagine if . . .’
- The power of the human imagination has been grasped in modern times by the psychology of sport. Top sportspeople are now taught to visualize their success – to actually see the ball flying into the top corner of the net in their mind’s eye before the game. To see it happening in your imagination increases the chances of it happening in reality.
- Those people who have given us hope of a better world – one free from injustice, oppression and inequality – have usually been visionaries, prophets of the imagination. For example, we revere Martin Luther King, not only because of his incredibly courageous actions but also because he inspired us with a glorious vision of what a non-racial society would look like – ‘I have a dream!’
- Part of John Lennon’s dream in ‘Imagine’was that there should be no more religion because it is a cause of conflict. This may be true in many cases, but there is another side to religion. At the heart of Christianity and the other great faiths there is also a leap of the imagination, a hope and a vision of a world of peace and love.
The Bible is full of people who had dreams, who imagined, who had visions. From Jacob, to Joseph (both the Old Testament and New Testament Josephs), to Job, to Solomon, to Mary, to John (I could go on), the Bible is full of dreamers – those who saw visions from God in their imaginations.
- As young people beginning your journey into adulthood, you should cherish the gift of imagination. Don’t be duped into compliance by the sometimes soulless, visionless, unimaginative, materialistic society in which we live. Dare to dream! Imagine what you – and what the world – could become.
Time for reflection
Advent is certainly a time of vision and imagination, when we reflect on our hopes for a better world. During Advent the Church often turns to the prophet Isaiah who – in a time of great turmoil and despair – had a great vision of peace and love for the world.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11.6–9, NIV, 2011)
Grant us the gift of imagination, that we may see a vision of ourselves and our world as it and we are truly called to be.