By Renee Putnam
“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
The baby flailed her arms wildly as she was lowered toward the baptismal font. The pastor poured water and blessed her. Her family watched as her face squished and her body involuntarily squirmed. A beautiful coo escaped her lips. After the blessing and declaration of commitment to raise this precious one in faith, God helping us, the harp began to play. It was as if gold was sparkling in the air. Heaven was smiling all around us.
The day before, another family gathered in that same sanctuary to celebrate a life gone by. Loving stories of faithfulness and dedication described a life well lived. The message grabbed us by the hand and led us straight to the gates of heaven where we could get a small glimpse of how our loved one was received by Jesus into glory.
These are thin places, where it seems as though heaven is pulled down, surrounding us with peace and joy.
Where do you see and hear heaven drawing near? Where can you touch it?
For me, the intentional walk of faith during confirmation service is one of those thin places. The sights, sounds; all the senses help cement in our memories the declaration of the affirmation of baptism by ninth graders. We read in their faith stories the journey these kids are on.
Or how about when a community was hurting and had an immediate need for food and supplies due to unrest? The very next day after the call went out, car after car after car brought what they had to share. One person opened the trunk and, wordlessly, and without looking for any kind of recognition, carried their gifts by the armload to add to the pile. It was as if the veil was pulled aside for a brief moment. Again, heaven came near.
I remember meeting a father who brought his daughter to Vacation Bible School to hear about how God loves her. She was excited to wear her sparkly backpack to show her friends. She could not keep herself from smiling ear-to-ear! The kids were taught that their faith grows because they can see an invisible God at work. Not because God has suddenly shown up, but because we have eyes to see and notice. The leaders point to God through the stories of Jesus and songs of praise. Little bodies jump and dance with joy for a God who cares.
For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, heaven draws near.
Where is heaven nearest for you?