This past Sunday’s message was based on Revelation 21:1-6. It is the beautiful and familiar passage of John’s vision of the new heaven and new earth.
I have always loved this passage because it removes those barriers that we often build up that separate from the things of heaven. Heaven itself bends down to the earth that is reaching up… the two become one in that place where they touch. Heaven is the place where God’s presence is, and now it is the place where our presence is as well. We become a part of that heavenly throng singing praises to the Lamb.
Imagine that–the world without all the influences of evil and sin: a world where bigotries, hatreds, and fears do not exist. A world where we are not tempted to judge one another. A place where we have no cause to lift up weapons against one another. A place where no child goes to bed hungry–where no person lives without access to clean water. No poverty. No bombs ripping through crowds. No chemical plants exploding. No factories crushing to the ground, taking the lives of the poor trapped inside. No sexual violence. No abuse. No disease. No hurt…. my list of what is not in heaven could go on and on forever.
I long for that day when heaven bends down to earth and it all becomes one–that day when the creation that was began so long ago finally reaches its final completion.
For most of my life I have heard people speaking with dreamy eagerness about what they expect heaven to be like: streets of pure gold, pearly gates, a cloud for every person to lounge on, an endless paradise…
And yet, I have no picture in my head.
I don’t know why I have never conjured up my own images of what I think heaven will be like. I’m a very imaginative person and creating a world in my head has never been a problem.
Most likely, I have never painted a mental image of heaven because I know full well that my finite human mind could never really wrap itself around what it would really be like. So, for now, I am content with thinking of heaven in terms of what is not there.
Truth be told, this world would be a paradise in and of itself if the sinfulness of humanity wasn’t tearing it apart by its disdain for one another, constant warfare, environmental destruction, cruelty to others, poverty, violence, and human recklessness.
And isn’t that just what God intended from the beginning?
Today, with all that still on my mind, I took my day of Sabbath. As is usual, I visited the gym and swam–being in the water is rejuvenating to my soul and as I dive into the water with each new lap, I can’t help but remember the waters of baptism, flowing over me, bringing into my being a new life… making me a new creation.
After my swim and a nice relaxing soak in the hot tub, I usually spend a few moments in the “Vick’s Room” (a room with infrared lights and a strong eucalyptus vapor). If I am alone in the Vick’s Room, as I was today, I seize the opportunity to meditate. Today, the prayer that came to me to meditate on was the Lord’s Prayer.
Over and over again the words of that familiar prayer rolled around in my head as my soul quieted and mind let go of all the distractions of the world. And over and over again I heard those words, “thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”…
Every day millions and millions of Christians pray these words in one language or another… but how many of us really believe it? How many of us really believe that God’s will can be done, right now, here on earth?
But there it is, in the prayer that we utter on a regular basis… the notion that heaven is already bending toward earth and that where we are now can be a place where God’s will is done. Where we are now can be in the very presence of God. Where we are now can be a blessed place where heaven and earth touch…