A few weeks ago I sat with a 97-year-old woman
as she lay in her hospital bed.
The family had stopped by the Church, early in the day,
wondering about funeral arrangements,
as their Mom was in her last days.
As I held her hand, she looked deep into my eyes.
I told her who I was, and she smiled and mouthed the word Yes.
There were no words between us for a long time,
as I hummed ‘Jesus loves me ...’
Now and then she would squeeze my hand,
and I would smile.
I mentioned the names of a few people whom she knew,
and who had sent their greetings.
I reminded her that she was still held in God’s love,
and that she was never alone.
This brought more smiles, a gleam in her eyes,
and a further attempt to speak.
After more hand-holding and smiles...
I said a prayer and a blessing,
held her face in my hands and said goodnight.
I felt blessed and honoured and peaceful....
as I bumped into heaven.
This loved and remarkable child of God,
died the next day in the presence of family.
I understand why Paul would want to elevate the goodness of God,
encourage Godly behaviour; lift up... the things of God.
I understand... but I think we miss the many blessings
of God’s presence in all things,
if we continue believing that Heaven is only UP THERE!
Up there and far away... up there,
and not also.... right here!
Taking Paul’s words literally , places God in the sky above...
God up in the clouds while we are stuck on the ground.
Paul’s language of earthly and heavenly,
speaks to our behaviour, not our physical situations.
We do fall short of loving God and loving our neighbours.
Our human failures... our earthliness... gets us into trouble.
Yet in our humanness... we are greeted by the God of love...
and in that love... if we love one another...
then heaven and earth are intertwined in truly beautiful ways.
God lives in us, if we love one another.
Love ... is us, bumping into heaven.
Just this morning,
as bread was broken and juice of the vine poured out...
we bumped into heaven.
As we stood together waiting to
eat and drink... participating in the great Mystery of God among us....
Jesus the Christ as our unseen host...
we.... bumped into heaven.
In the ordinary stuff of life... living and dying and living again...
we bump into heaven.
When we see the Holy as only beyond us, we miss something.
When heaven is up there or designated to a faraway place,
the wonder of heavenly things gets lost.
When sacred things are complicated and structured,
it becomes hard to keep believing.
When God, or the Divine, or the Creator...
is only seen as super, and out-of-the-ordinary, or unattainable,
we miss something.
Heaven is here... reachable, attainable.
Found in tears and laughter;
discovered moment by moment... if we pay attention.
Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century female mystic,
tells us that ‘all things have their being in the love of God.’
God showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut
in the palm of my hand,
and it was as round as a ball.
I looked at it and wondered,
“what may this be?”
And this is the answer that was given to me.
“It is all that is made! It is the whole of creation!”
I was amazed that such a thing could last –
why it did not crumble into nothing.
“It lasts and ever shall,
because God loves it.
And so all things
have their being in the love of God.”
The love of God... the place where all things have their being.
A love that is present and available here and now.
We are invited to open our hearts to God...
who is here, not hanging out in a far-away place.
Marcus Borg reminds us that:
The Christian life is about entering a relationship in this moment...
a relationship that begins to change everything now.”
“The Christian life is not about pleasing a finger-shaking, judgmental God...
or about being ‘good’ now... for the sake of heaven later... NO.
― Marcus J. Borg, The God We Never Knew:
Beyond Dogmatic Religion To a More Authentic Contemporary Faith
Entering into a relationship with the Holy Mystery,
is food for body, soul and mind.
It is a relationship that will begin to change us in this moment.
We can begin to understand what it means
to have our being, in the love of God.
Heaven and earth, overlap and intersect,
in an abundance of different ways... mysterious and wonderful ways.
May times in the Hebrew scriptures, we see this intersection.
When Moses discovers the burning bush,
he is told that he is on Holy Ground... in God’s presence.
Heaven and earth intertwining.
God hands the Ten Commandments to Moses.
Earth meeting heaven.
The people spoke about the Temple
as the place where Heaven and Earth met.
And then there is Jesus...
God revealed to us, through him...
present at creation,
living abundantly... dying;
yet as the Christ, lives in us today.
Christ is all ... and is in all!
We will bump into heaven as we see the sacred in ordinary things.
We will bump into heaven
listening to a child giggle,
holding the hand of a sick relative,
watching youth settle into the best of who they are,
as we walk in a forest where leaves are dancing in the wind.
We will bump into heaven here today.. if we pay attention.
So praise God for this Holy Ground,
place and people, sight and sound.
and take time ... to bump into heaven!