I love the feel of our living room the morning after our gospel community* has met there. There is a sense of shift, of change and of our lives having being altered by the presence of people who we walk through this life with. The furniture is all at different angles, random cups still lie hidden around the room with the dregs of tea and coffee in them. There are more chairs than usual and there is a palpable lack, an emptiness which speaks loudly that these were times of fullness, times of laughter, joy and togetherness. As I sit here alone I know that I am not alone.
Last night we thought about hard times, there is much sorrow in the air and I have once more returned to Lord of the Rings as my metaphor for describing the many emotions I feel at the moment. Right now I need a story of a long hard journey with battles along the way and a knowledge that the ending will be a good one. We need this shadow story to remind us of the big one our lives are actually part of.
We saw that they didn’t because they saw some of the bigger picture their lives were involved with, and so we read Ephesians 1, 1 Peter 1 and Romans 8 to remind us of the bigger picture our lives are involved with. We are in God’s family. We have a God who is at work in the broken mess of our lives to bring good and his purposes. We have a God who considers us precious and worthy of trials and who shields us in them.
Our lives are part of a bigger story. There is hope in the air and this morning as I sit amongst the embers of last night I know that we remembered such things in this place and I remember them again.We also looked at the end of the story, Revelation 21 and Isaiah 25 reminded us that there will be a time when our tears are wiped away, that God will come and dwell with us again, that pain, mourning and crying will be no more and we will enjoy a fine banquet, a feast and our shame will be removed.
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.
In that day they will say,
“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
When I’m in heaven
Tell me there’ll be seasons when the colours fly,
Poppies splashing flame
Through dying yellow, living green,
And autumn’s burning sadness that has always made me cry
For things that have to end.
Winter fires that blaze like captive suns
But look so cold when the morning comes.
I do love the way the seasons change.
When I’m in heaven
Tell me there will be peace at last,
That in some meadow filled with sunshine
Filled with buttercups and filled with friends
You will chew a straw and fill us in on how things really are,
And if there is some harm in laying earthly hope at heaven’s door,
Or in this saying so,
Well, have mercy on my foolishness, dear Lord,
I love this world you made – it’s all I know.
*gospel community- small group from church who meet to chat, eat food, share lives, love each other, be transformed by God, welcome others and generally try and live out the reality of belonging to the Maker of the Universe life together.