From the Pulpit: A short trip to heaven
When you hear a phrase about a “trip to heaven,” your mind might assume that it’s about one of those “near-death” experiences. Articles and books are around regarding someone who was clinically dead for a bit, and experienced an out-of-body state.
Some write about approaching a beautiful light, or seeing a loved one, or being given a new peace. Fascinating, and rather hopeful.
However, the trip to heaven that I had was in plain view and experienced by hundreds. If you scoff at such a thing, let me tell you about it. It happened on Jan. 6.
I was going to church, like every Sunday, when it happened. There was a packed house of all ages and types of people; mostly strangers, some friends. There was lovely music of piano/guitar/drums/cello and vocals that were quite angelic.
It began innocently enough, totally on earth, but kept ascending as the hour moved along. The down-to-earth sermon had several inspiring epiphanies. It was genuine and relevant, and included things that made us smile together and that made us think “oh so true.”
(A story about his young daughter holding on to his pinkie finger as they walked on ice, then falling and getting a boo-boo because her grip was not strong enough, before letting him do the holding on, spoke the truth about us and God. Heads were nodding knowingly.)
We commissioned a team of 15 folks who are going on a mission trip to Haiti. We prayed for them, and soon returned to music. The beauty of souls in worship, singing together, heads upward, elevated above the issues and concerns of the day, was a glimpse of glory.
When I realized that the lead vocalist was a young woman who has two children slowly dying of a rare genetic disorder, I was transported higher. My old mentor told me years ago that “you gotta die to go to heaven” — and I know what he meant — but this was close.
Then came communion. The pastor led us into it with an explanation that our semi-circular kneeling at the altar is completed full circle by those worshiping on the eternal side. What a picture!The people streamed up; a stream of love and grace. Whether they came in wheelchairs or in arms or on their own feet, whether with gray hair or Afros or no hair, whether limping or strolling, whether dry-eyed or teary, they poured in to where the grace of God was poured out.
I was transported, briefly, to the heavenly realms, where healing and harmony abide. I could see humanity flowing to the throne of God.
I won’t tell you that it happens every Sunday in every church. I’d guess we often miss it in our weakness and preoccupations. But I thought I should tell you. It isn’t that far away.