Bach's B minor Mass? An iced glass of brown lager after mowing the grass on a hot day? The first bite of a Nebraska rib eye taken from the grill while still medium rare and a patty of real butter melts across the grill marks? The look into your beloved's eyes when finally the plans are fulfilled and the promises exchanged with a ring and a kiss? The feel of your own mattress to an aching back after spending a dozen or more hours in the car beating all to get home in one day on the road? The choir singing "Sing Me to Heaven" with a perfect tone and pitch and the best attention to dynamics they have ever had? Momma frying up brains and eggs and fried potatoes while homemade bread toasts in anticipation of the moment when real butter and some of the best blackberry jam you have ever tasted is slathered across its golden face? The white sandy beaches of the Caribbean and the clear, aqua water splashing gently upon the shore while a cabana boy hands you a drink with an umbrella as you smell the fish grilling in the background and wait for him to serve you lunch? The first sound of the cry of your baby whose lungs have filled with air for the first time to the joyful smiles of a healthy mom and a proud pop who have waited nine months for their family to be complete with this child of hope? The final stanza to "Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart" whispered into the ear of one of God's own as the last words heard this side of glory?
I could go on... and you would have your own list... but suffice it to say that in Tennessee you might find something added to that list that would never make my list of "closest things to heaven on earth you can get." You can read this fascinating story here. I will quote a couple of pertinent points...
Making a late-night run to Taco Bell.
Watching SpongeBob on the couch with his kids.
Handling rattlesnakes in church.
Hamblin, 21, pastor of Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., is part of a new generation of serpent-handling Christians who are revitalizing a century-old faith tradition in Tennessee.
older serpent handlers were wary of outsiders, these younger believers
welcome visitors and use Facebook to promote their often misunderstood —
and illegal — version of Christianity. They want to show the beauty and
power of their extreme form of spirituality. And they hope eventually
to reverse a state ban on handling snakes in church.
Bob Smietana is a great writer and one of the great assets of The Tennessean in neighboring Nashville. His story captures the rebirth of a once proud Appalachian Christian practice -- frankly, one that I abhor and cannot for the life of me understand. It is a great read for something that, for me at least, is about as far from heaven on earth as you can get. What about you?
It may not be Heaven on earth, but it can get you to Heaven from earth faster:http://www.kansascity.com/2012/06/01/3637443/veteran-snake-handling-pastor.html
"The meaning is, thou shalt not try him; or, thou shalt not, by throwing thyself into voluntary and uncommanded dangers, appeal to God for protection, or trifle with the promises made to those who are thrown into danger by his providence."
Wonder if people understand and believe what goes on in the Divine Service. Do folks really believe that God is present and acts through the Word and Sacrament (the He saves us through the water of baptism and He strengthens and preserves us to eternal life in the Lord's Supper). For example, how do we fight temptation? Luther says in the Large Catechism when discussing, 'lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,' that God gives us power and strengthens us when tempted. It was an eyeopener for me when I realized this. We want to see God act but hen refuse to meet Him where He has promised to act.
I like your list, Pastor Peters. I think God would be sad if we chose not to make good use of the time He has given us. How can we learn to find joy in any given circumstance?
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