In-Sight: The Church Invisible

During the month of August, I attended the funerals of two dear friends, Beth Perry and John Mogabgab.  Beth was one of my students in the early 1980’s, as my teaching ministry was just beginning.  In addition to this, she was one of the “A Team” babysitters for our children, and after she graduated, we kept in touch, including a blessed visit with her just a couple of weeks before she died.

John was a beloved colleague at The Upper Room, serving faithfully and quietly as the founding editor of Weavings journal.  His wife, Marjorie, co-directed the Pathways Initiative with me, a ministry for leaders at The Upper Room.  John, Marjorie, Jeannie, and I became soul friends and remain so to this day.

The translation of these two saints from earth to heaven has rekindled my meditation about connection with the Church invisible.  Invisible?  Yes.  Far away?  Likely not.

The writer of Hebrews said we are surrounded by these departed disciples like being enveloped in a great cloud (12:1).  That doesn’t sound like “somewhere, out there” to me.

The Church invisible largely eludes further description.  I hold to E. Stanley Jones’ belief that whatever heaven is, it is better than earth, or it wouldn’t be heaven.  Someone else whose name I have forgotten put it this way: “If gold is used as paving material for streets in heaven, the rest must be something else!”

But what I am looking forward to when I get to heaven is not the real estate or the building materials.  I am looking forward to reuniting in some way with people like Beth and John, thanking them for their witness to me while on earth, and then going on to find out how they continued to help me from heaven!

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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