In the midst of pandemic, and in self-isolation, our attention is naturally drawn to those post-apocalyptic dystopian future parallels; such as zombie cult or alien invasion films, or any portrayal of life, as we know it, ending. We long for a return to the normal life we knew. I long to see you all in worship, in gatherings, and events that our church holds for the community. We are social in our nature, humans need that connection as we are all an image of God’s Triune Community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – God as Three and One. Yet, I know that many things will be different after this pandemic finally ceases to be a health threat. And that is okay. Perhaps we will awaken to the reality that the Heavens have always been invading our world and that just might change how we live in this heaven infested world!
We are looking at this phenomenon as we explore the “Road Trips of the Bible” in my sermons and Zoom Bible study (on Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM). With just a few examples – Hagar and her son (the castoff concubine of Abraham), are heard by God and are provided water in their desperate hour to sustain them (Genesis 21:17-19). What about God providing a ram for Abraham to sacrifice, instead of his son? Thus, keeping the promise to Abraham of a great nation of blessing for the world. Jacob was running for his life and had a vision where he saw heaven and earth connected by a ladder or passageway. He awoke and said (my paraphrase): “God lives here! … I’ve stumbled into his house! This is the awesome entrance to Heaven” (Genesis 28:12-19). Moses and God have a conversation and receives the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) to show the people how to relate to God and our fellow humans – how to live in both heaven and earth!
These are just a few examples of heaven invading our earth. God refuses to leave us alone. I believe that Jesus is the fullest expression of heaven having come to humanity itself. On the Road to Emmaus, Jesus encounters the two disciples who do not recognize him until he takes, blesses, breaks, and gives the bread. Heaven is present in our world; we just need to acknowledge that we are the taken/chosen, blessed beloved of God, who in our brokenness and vulnerability are able to be a gift of God’s heavenly presence in the world. Heaven invades our world through us!
Perhaps you have had an experience where you have known the closeness of God. When we were about to have our first child, Evie, I remember being in a diner with Doris and being overcome by actually seeing the faces of children in the people all around me. I was teary-eyed looking at all these people who were somebody’s son or daughter, receiving a heavenly reminder that we are all God’s children! I don’t know how long it lasted, but it had a profound effect upon my life as I experienced the expansive love of God in a new and tangible way. Perhaps, you have a story similar to Elijah, who did not hear the voice of God in the thunderstorm or the earthquake, but in the still, small voice – the tug of God upon your soul.
The Gospel of Matthew, written with a Jewish audience in mind, and therefore utilizes the phrase “the kingdom of the heavens” thirty-two times to underscore God’s rule and presence that is found over and over within the rich tradition of Old Testament. By looking back, Matthew shows us today that God is already here. Therefore, praying the Lord’s Prayer becomes a radical transformative cry for each of us to become “on earth, as it is in heaven!” Indeed, the heavens have invaded the earth – can you see the possibilities of how God can use you as an evidence of heaven/God’s presence in our dire world? What is God ready to awaken in you? Are you willing to find out?
I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)