I was restless and anxious at home.
I came to my office on this Sunday afternoon to seek clarity and to assign meaning to the insanity of the last several days.
My time in church this morning didn’t help me immediately come to the answer.
Prayers and tears for 20 children dead, along with six adults who fell in acts of protection and rescue . . . the murder of a mother . . . the suicide of a young man I personally know who was working hard to overcome addiction . . . the discovery of a cyst in a young woman’s skull that brings her pain, blurred vision, loss of memory, and, now, brain surgery . . . the sudden unexplained death of the adult daughter of my neighbors . . . the serious illness of a young boy and his mother’s loss of a job because she had to choose between being with him or going to work . . . the news that a dear friend has chosen to forego further treatment and to submit quietly to the hand of death . . .
I know that “the definitive answer” to all of these horrendous things would be appreciated by everyone. Most of all, by me.
As I sat in my pew this morning, I found myself longing for a perfect world. I wanted a place where people didn’t kill other people . . . where individuals didn’t argue angrily over things that are of little substance . . . where addiction and mental and physical illness don’t exist . . . where the people behind me wouldn’t talk in church . . . where times together with family and friends and co-workers could be free of conflict . . .
I was longing for heaven on earth. And then it struck me:
- You can’t have heaven on earth.
But surely we can have glimpses of heaven . . . whiffs of the aromas that escape God’s kitchen . . . a brief caress reminiscent of the Creator’s touch . . . the soothing words of a loving voice . . .
And that would be enough.
Despite my protests and my assertion that you can’t have heaven on earth, I am, of course, completely wrong.
A couple of thousand years ago, an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds tending their flocks and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all of the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” And almost immediately, a chorus of angels broke out in song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men and women and children on whom his favor rests.”
Peace came to earth. All of the elements are here. And therein lies the definitive answer.
Preacher Jonathan reminded us today that “hope” is, essentially, “waiting” for better things to come. How better to spend our time than to offer hope in this grand waiting room?
Today, tomorrow, and every day:
- Peel back the unsightly sores that cover this life so that others can catch a glimpse of heaven.
- Allow the aroma of Christ to saturate everything about you so that others can’t help but smell it too.
- Touch someone with the care and concern that can bring emotional healing even when physical healing is impossible.
- Speak words of peace and comfort.
After all, “Emmanuel” means “God with us.”