Lenten Devotional: Fri, Feb 26: HEAVEN

Matthew uses the Greek word basileía. It contains such a big idea. What is heaven? Is it above us, up in the sky or cosmos? Is it lodged within our minds and hearts? Is it a place or a state of being?

We can sum up cultural ideas of heaven as a location or realm where gods and supernatural beings — Christians believe this to be Christ, Spirit, Godself — and angels dwell. Often it is conceived as being removed from our human plane, in an otherworld or paradise. Historically, our concept of heaven as especially holy means that it is a place set apart. Sometimes humans can access it, but often conditionally so. Religions that recognize heaven may also have an opposing concept or place such as the underworld or hell. In some traditions, elemental structures such as the World Tree connect the heavenly world to the human world and sometimes an underworld.

In Hebrew and Christian scriptures, heaven has been depicted as a garden, as a holy tree, or a light-filled city with flowering trees and flowing river, populated by people from all over the world. Pope John Paul stated, that heaven is ‘neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.’

For our purposes, perhaps we can understand heaven as a metaphysical state of being within us or as a set-apart holy place where God dwells. Yet the kingdom of heaven, as the Beatitudes describe it, is also here and now. Not in the future and not far away. Heaven is essentially a place where the blessed find a homecoming: both in our living and beyond death itself. — Rev Gail

Meditations:

There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts. — Albert Schweitzer

Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.’ I think if he lived nowadays, instead of ‘kingdom,’ he would have said, ‘dimension.’ And ‘heaven’ refers to a sense of vastness or spaciousness. — Eckhart Tolle

The kingdom of heaven is like electricity. You don’t see it. It is within you. — Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The whole point of the kingdom of God is Jesus has come to bear witness to the true truth, which is nonviolent. When God wants to take charge of the world, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the poor and the meek. — N. T. Wright

Challenge or Question: What offers you a glimpse of heaven now? Is it a place? An experience? A relationship? What do you imagine heaven will offer you? And what do you imagine you will bring with you and leave behind when you enter the kingdom of heaven?

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