Several years ago, now, I had the chance to work with some very creative people during Vacation Bible School at the church where I was serving. We were responsible for the “Bible room” – a place where we made the stories come to life, or at least tried to. It was a week full of great stories, beautiful sets, and way too much laughing behind the scenes.
The very first night, the story on deck was the announcement to the shepherds of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. But rather than beginning on the hillside, instead the narrative started in heaven’s realm before moving under the starry sky. After long hours, lots of tule, and using hundreds of push-pins to attach Christmas lights to the ceiling, we were as ready as we were going to be for our campers. The night went by in a mad dash. At the very end, one of the campers, probably around eight years old at the time, came pulling his mother down the hallway and asking her, “do you want to see what heaven looks like?” And, of course, we had already broken down the room to get ready for the next day (it was heartbreaking).
The truth is, though, that we only ever get glimpses of God’s heavenly kingdom here on earth. Sometimes they look like a starry sky and other times they come in life’s messiest pits. What they all share in common is that they bear witness to the promises we teach every year in VBS, every Sunday in worship, and hopefully every day in our lives. First, that we are loved more than we can imagine. Second, that God is with us wherever we go. Third, because we are loved and God is with us, we should be brave. And fourth, we should use our courage to love and serve others. When we live into these promises and calls, that’s when we might just get to see what heaven looks like.