People have been talking about heaven for longer than we have records to show of it. Heaven, some place or idea about where we go when we are no longer here, has been in the conversations of people of faith and those still seeking it for thousands of years.
The conversations continue. On Easter Sunday we started a series that delves deeply into ideas of who, what, when and where about the place people are talking about. It seems what we started has picked up some national attention, as evidenced by the cover of this coming week's Time magazine for April 16, 2012.
It was the conversation between Jesus and one of the two bandits/insurgents being crucified alongside of him that opened our conversation. According to Jesus' own words, Easter opens the door to heaven for everyone who believes. It is shocking who is included in the 'everyone who believes', because after further study it seems that the scriptures are regularly counting those the world (and religious leaders) would consider not worthy. The Good News for me, and for you, is that such an opening for persons who are 1) not worthy but who 2) believe in Jesus as Lord, is precisely where our hope is grounded. It is not by my works or any righteous I am able to conjure up myself that the doors at the gates of heaven are left open for me. It is by grace. It is by God's radical economy that says the last shall be first. It is by Jesus' work on the cross and God's power on Easter morning.
I want to spend one moment offering encouragement. Come be in worship. You need to hear the message of God's plans for both heaven and earth as they are laid out in the scriptures. But, bring people with you. Reach out to family and friends and invite them. What better month than on the heels of Easter when the teachings are about a topic that is featured in the national media and can be seen in every checkout line in town?
Our dream for Epworth is simple: we want to help move people along the journey of faith toward God's best desires for them. Our vision for making that happen is to gather people who are growing in love and going out as great neighbors who serve.
Grace and Peace, Scott