This morning, somewhere in the midst of central Pennsylvania, I experienced heaven.
The streets weren’t made of gold. The church we went to didn’t have enormous pearls for doors – surprise, surprise: it was actually in a gymnasium. There were only a few visible angels (as opposed to a “heavenly host”).
So what was it about this particular Sunday morning that brought heaven to earth?
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Maile and I get together with four other couples once a month for a kind of dinner club. Mostly we laugh and make fun of each other, share what’s going on in our lives and drink some wine. I know a few of them from way back, when we were as old as my young children are now; others I only met last year.
But once a month we leave our cumulative 18 children at home with a sitter and gather at somebody’s house and put life on pause for a few hours.
The thing is, between the five couples, we go to three different churches. I think the reasons for this are less theological than they are circumstantial, yet each Sunday we wake up, get our kids ready, eat breakfast, load up the vehicles, and end up at a different place trying to find God, figure out who he is, how he relates to our lives.
But this morning we were all together.
One of the couples has just adopted a baby, and they were celebrating this at our church, so all of our “dinner club” friends came to cheer them on. We laughed as all the families trooped into the church in groups of five or six. We sat close to one another during the service. We all went up on stage to support this new child’s arrival. We worshiped God together. We hung around for a long time afterwards, catching up.
See, this baby’s adoption isn’t straightforward, and we don’t know, for sure, how long she might be with us. So in the midst of that joy, there is uncertainty. Another one of the ladies just had her second miscarriage this year (I only mention it because she blogged about it HERE). So in the midst of welcoming this new little adopted child, there is much pain for her and for us. Each of us brought our own little deaths, our own little victories, and this morning we were able to put our arms around each other, to cry together about the things we do not understand, to laugh together, to pray together.
People talk about “hell on earth,” and we see it all the time on the news. We hear about it. But this morning, in the midst of some very painful and uncertain situations, I saw heaven on earth.
It was not about our theological beliefs. There was nothing remotely political about it. It was about people being together, seeking God together. And it was good.
So whether or not the story told by the 4-year-old boy who claims to have seen heaven is true or not, I can tell you right now that heaven is for real.
I just saw it this morning.