Listening in on Heaven

Last Sunday I was preaching about why the Bible contains ‘horrible histories’ (or are they ‘helpful stories’? Maybe they are both). Almost as an aside I mentioned the idea of living with music of heaven humming in our heads.  When we know ourselves to be in the middle of a difficult story with many twists, turns and uncertainties, it’s really helpful to remind ourselves that a story is defined by the way the it ends.

In Revelation chapter 4-5 we sneak a peek into Heaven, all the imagery is symbolic, some of it is difficult to understand but there are some things are easy to grasp:  there is singing, there is hope and there is joy.

As usual Tom Wright puts it better than me: ‘our lives are to be lived in the light of the praise of Heaven… Biblical faith is not a matter of looking away from ourself and trying our best. It is a matter of…seeing the world as God sees it, as it really is’

and again

‘Faith is not the mysterious ability to sail through life with a secret key that unlocks all the doors. Faith is the willingness to think and act on the basis of what we know of God (which may be very little) and to trust him that he will not let us down’  ( from Small Faith, Great God, SPCK)

Today I wandered into a tiny country church on my day off.  If I’m honest I was hoping it would be one of those ‘thin places’ where the curtain between earth and heaven seems almost translucent. It looked hopeful. As I opened the door, the lights went on which was a very welcoming touch even though the place was deserted. However my solitude was quickly gate-crashed by the arrival of two noisy, friendly, chatty (but mostly just noisy), cleaning ladies who set about sweeping, polishing and chattering with gusto.

Oh well, perhaps there wouldn’t be a ‘holy moment’ here after all… and then I had a look around anyway and found a file of random prayers and photos left out on a table.  And there it was. This brilliant prayer. It begins from the viewpoint of a bystander watching the scene in Revelation. It  reminds me to look up, to listen in, to remember the end of the story, to keep going, to have faith…

(George Appleton 1902 -1993)

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