With the New Earth Have a Chik-fil-A? And Will It Be Open on Sundays?
The whole idea from this series on Revelation began with the notion that we need to spend some time de-mythologizing and re-engaging the book of Revelation. And in order to do so, we need to strip away the bizarre political overlays that have come to surround this book and its imagery so that we might get down to its heart. And the fundamental purpose of it is this: to let a suffering people know that God wins. But that God's victory doesn't look like victory as we've come to know it. God's victory is marked by its obsession with love, grace, and mercy.
Today we welcome our Preschool families, and with them, this thought occurs to me. I have one word of parenting advice as a fellow struggler: we don't have to know all the answers to all the questions our children throw at us about God. Mystery is an absolute part of faith. What we do know is God's character of love, grace, and mercy; we are best at answering these questions when we remember that.
Today's lesson brings images of a new heaven and a new earth. Revelation is not alone in this, but it has a hand in shaping our image of heaven. So the question I ask today is this: how do you imagine heaven? What do you see and hear and feel?
My hunch is that our collective imagination, when pooled together, can do little more than give us a glimpse; and even then, imperfectly so, as it is limited by the stretches of our imagination. But the kinds of things I imagine hearing echo that Revelation text with suffering removed; joy beyond knowledge; radical equality in the presence of God. And why do we choose these things? Because these are the very things that Jesus' life and ministry were about. He treated people equally, even those who were gravely marginalized in the 1st century: women, children, lepers. He healed and raised from the dead. He shared wisdom, his own version of imagination that parts the skies and opens up a fuller picture of heaven to us.
And that's the bottom line for me. Heaven isn't just about an "over yonder" "pie in the sky" situation. Heaven is about the here and now. We sometimes refer to it as the "in-breaking of the kingdom of God". We are the body of Christ. We are Christ's hands and feet. We are the ones to show this world what heaven is supposed to look like. And whether its parenting or anything else we do, the most profound wisdom we can offer is not answers; but the deepest desire to live and reflect the character we know of God in God's victory: love, grace, and mercy.