Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bits of Heaven - a Sermon

Happy Fathers Day.  Every Father's Day you see these cards and ads idealizing Father/Son activities.  Well, My son and I had a little father/son outing yesterday when we went on a Boy Scout rafting trip down the Housatonic.  

Let me tell you, it wasn't like the white-water rafting stories so many friends told me about.  "It'll be the time of your life," one friend said.  If you don't count the 5 hours of travel and waiting around doing nothing time, the trip down the river lasted six hours.  Three of those hours consisted of sitting in still water trying to paddle while the boys pushed each other out of their rafts (and trying to push all of the adults out) and stealing each others' paddles.  Two of those hours consisted of trying to dislodge our rafts from the endless array of rocks that littered the last third of the river run.  A half hour of our time consisted of eating lunch on a muddy bank.  

But one half hour was glorious.  Fast water that looked ominous shooshed us smoothly along, brief stretches of choppy water gave a roller coaster ride, shooting us over those rocks or bouncing off them like giant pinballs.  It wasn't much, maybe, but it was just enough to give me a glimpse of what people love about the river.  Mind you, we forgot all about the glorious glimpses once we hit the rocks later on.

I mention this because our little story can seem a lot like life itself at times.  Most of the time, it seems like nothing happens -- you try to move forward, but maybe nobody wants to move forward with you or there are too many distraction.  Who knows.  A lot of the time, life is just plain hard -- you get scared or frustrated or you don't know how you're going to make it.  Some of the time you're sitting in the mud wondering what else you could have done with your time.

But sometimes, you get a glimpse of why we're here, of what makes life and love so special.  People come into your life, spectacular events change you, something you accomplish makes you sit back and say, "Wow."

Not only life is like that, but heaven -- or at least what we get to see of it.  We live in this world, and quite often we get so caught up in the rocks of our lives that we fail to remember or even recognize those glimpses of heaven.

Those are the days when it's good to remember the scriptures -- the glimpses of heaven that others have had.  The stories of Abraham sitting there minding his business when the Lord appears in the guise of three men.  Abraham at a hundred years of age, and the Lord tells him he's about to become a father.  YOU may not think of having a child at 100 as glorious, but for Abraham, it was as good as it gets.  And this man had seen his share of rocky patches in life.

Or look at Jesus, sending his disciples out to preach.  He takes them from their normal lives doing a wide array of jobs and sends them into the world with one message:  "The kingdom of heaven has come near."

Two things to remember about that message.  The message isn't that the kingdom of heaven is here right now.  It has come near.  Close enough to catch a glimpse of, to see what can be, to see what God promises.  Some people recognized it and others did not.  Some were too caught up in the rocks of their lives, perhaps, to notice.  But those who did, saw a glimpse of heaven.  They did not see heaven when the disciples came through, but they saw just enough, just a bit of heaven.  And it was enough.

The other thing to remember is that Jesus told the disciples their mission would be hard.  Hard but worth it.  Because just as others saw bits of heaven in their preaching, so would they.  They would face persecution, prison, even death -- but what they saw of heaven would be enough.

If your life isn't all you'd like it to be -- if there are rocks, and distractions, and mudholes you find yourself sitting in, well that certainly makes you human.

But you will see glimpses of it as you look around -- and if you let them, they will be enough.  Amen.