Monday, February 12, 2024

Heaven All Around Us

The most compelling message of the Transfiguration is, for me, the imagery of heaven’s close proximity in time and space. Paul said that in God, “we live, and move, and have our being.”1 Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within and among us.2 Still, it seems our thoughts of heaven are anchored in the imagery of “up.” So it’s hard to think of heaven the way Jesus described it to Nicodemus when he spoke of himself as the one who both “came down from heaven” and “is in heaven.”3

The Ascension portrays Jesus as going up, up, and away. Elijah was carried up and away in a fiery chariot. Even the Transfiguration took place up on a mountaintop. But perhaps the imagery of “up and away” is intended to communicate a higher plane in our thinking and relationship to each other. Johnson Oatman wrote in his hymn,4

Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith, on heaven’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Everyone is called to pray as we have come to understand prayer to be, so far, and through prayer, to grow in that understanding. All of humanity is called into the eternal conversation of prayer that connects us all in heaven and on earth. We are invited to explore the implications of the idea that from God’s perspective, everyone who has ever lived is still alive. The compelling imagery of the Transfiguration invites us through prayer to explore the broadest possible realms of spirituality in the concept of heaven all around us.  

[Audo of Complete Sermon]

Audio of the sermon preached by Rev. Bill Lawson
February 11, 2024, at Briensburg UMC
Bible Readings for Transfiguration Sunday, Revised Common Lectionary Year B
2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9

COVER IMAGE: Bellini, Giovanni. “The Transfiguration,” 1480. Wikipedia: The Free Encylopedia.  
Accessed 12 February 2024. Painting.

Luke 17:28 (KJV).

Luke 17:21.

John 3:13 (KJV).

Oatman, Johnson Jr. “Higher Ground,” 1892. Hymnary.  Accessed12 February 2024.

© 2024, William H. Lawson, Jr. All rights reserved. 

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