Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor
Some people care too much. I think its called love.” – A. A. Milne
Joe and Kate had followed in the Greene's footsteps, but their path had taken them back to the 'lower 48,' where they pastored a church. The great bridge and her economic vitality were indeed infusing something into the spirit of a hungry world. In centuries past it had been known as the 'Great Awakening.' Jonathan Greene and Kris had unwittingly followed in the footsteps of men like Jonathan Edwards. Indeed it almost seemed like the Divine's patience with mankind was finally paying off. The world in 2060 was a bit different than the prophets of doom had predicted.
There had indeed been wars, and even more rumors of war. The sins of mankind continued to play out on the world stage, and many suffered as a result. In the Northern hemisphere, Elizabeth Zimmerman's geothermal greenhouse farms, populated by refugees of these conflicts, offered a strong alternative! If the truth be known, more people around the world were discovering the 'hope and a future' that Rupert Zimmerman had first tasted over the Greene's macaroni and cheese! Though the news media was not reporting it. In every nation of the world, little 'Priscilla and Aquilla' groups were quietly changing the world.
Indeed, on a lazy Summer afternoon in a garden on Big Diomede, a group of ladies sharing sweet tea and sweet fellowship seemed to profess that all was right with the world. Yet, unlike the fat complacency of ages past, that had led to apathy and forgetfulness, they all shared that delicious feeling of anticipation! It was something like the feeling you have the day before your cherished daughter is given in marriage to a son-in-law who you yourself have come to love!
What could it be? The work in the world was far from finished, yet a new era of peace and prosperity seemed to be coming. With the world looking to the Northern Hemisphere for direction now, the Middle East was attempting to overcome her own convulsions with the establishment of the World Centre for Peace on the outskirts of Baghdad. The project of a young, charismatic visionary from Hungary, this could only help to settle the seemingly unending cycle of world violence...
But today, the light through the now mature trees of the biosphere was so... GOLDEN! so RICH! Not an ordinary day! And what was this? The MEN of these families were returning EARLY from their tour of 'Zimmerman's Folly.' That NEVER happened. The ladies had even put a later time on their reservations at Big Diomede's Asian restaurant for dinner that night, knowing full well that a short tour of the great bridge never was. Yet, the men too seemed to sense the wonder of the sunlight... and the desire to be close to their loved ones. Think of Christmas morning or the day of your wedding... or the last bell before the first day of Summer vacation... none of these can come close to the feeling our little company now shared.
Golden sunlight seemed to fill the little garden now. The hollyhocks had never seemed so brilliant!
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth all things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." -- Isaiah 61:11
The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow." -- Isaiah 62:2
Kris vaguely remembered the feeling of floating... it seemed she was floating above her brilliant garden on Big Diomede... then stepping from the still pool into a beautiful wood! Oh, the colors! This place was so new and yet to her it was also strangely familiar, like the woods she'd played in behind her house as a girl, but the colors were so deep! Somehow she'd always known the wonder of this place.
The illumination of this place was like the first light of dawn. Golden light spilled into the little grove! Somehow the source of that light seemed very close... as if moving toward her to greet her! Her first desire was to sing, and sing she did. Her beautiful voice filled the little grove. Her song seemed to add color to the place, and indeed as she sang flowers and brilliant leaves seemed to come into being! She was aware now that she was singing harmony to someone else's beautiful song! There He stood! A Man so magnificent that He appeared to be the Force that illuminated this world! Indeed He WAS! He finished His song and greeted her:
Well done!, good and faithful servant! You were my light in the world you have come from, now you shall be called..." and he spoke a name so wonderful that we may not speak it here, but it loosely translates as 'Daughter of the Morning Star.' "Daughter, come and see what I'm working on!" He seemed eager to show her the inner secrets of His Creation, and indeed He was. But as she stepped into this world of wonder she realized that she was not alone! Indeed her husband and her brother, who shared the same name had been singing her song as well. The man who had been her partner in life and the brother she had lost in childhood now stood embracing her in the presence of the Magnificent One!
Time is not the same in this world and for what might have been eons the little family shared joys that we can only imagine, since they are private to them, but just imagine the best Christmas ever when some favorite relative showed up unexpectedly and the house was filled with joy, laughter and forever memories! Yes, the smell of wonder that seemed to spill forth when a beloved and magical aunt opened her suitcase... those imprinted joys of childhood that are never forgotten!; these are but a hint of what joys our travelers now savored! Oh, how the circle grew bigger as grandparents and others joined the happy group!
Kris would always remember a couple of wonderful things about this moment, as if she was uniquely created to notice them. First of all the eyes of the Magnificent One were seemingly made up of every color in the rainbow... and more colors that are beyond the ability of eyes in this present world to see at all! If Kris could have seen her own eyes now she would have seen that the beautiful green of them had been joined by all those colors as well! Her eyes were a mirror of the Master's! Now she noticed that when her loved ones drew closer to the Redeeming One, they seemed to grow younger! Now she came to the joyous realization that in the presence of the Magnificent One, she herself became as a little child. She lost no knowledge or wisdom in doing so. In fact, one only GAINED wisdom as one came closer to His presence!
She thought of people she'd met who'd seen and shared visions and dreams of this place. An Egyptian woman had said that Jesus was surrounded in Heaven by children! Now Kris saw how this could be as another person, who had died and been revived as a child had said that Heaven was populated by people who appeared to be in the prime of their young adulthood. Kris had once painted a mural on a church wall called 'Journey to Jesus.' In it children from around the world approached the Saviour in their native costumes. Now it seemed that Kris' painting had come to life. Young and brilliant, from every nation, they came to greet... or more correctly, to be greeted by the Magnificent One! Now she saw that this vision was indeed a reality! She hadn't noticed the wider wood before, but now she saw the full sweep of the wonderful new world.
When Kris had painted her mural, a hallway had forced a break at the Bering Strait. In her lifetime she'd seen herself transplanted to the place where that divide had been bridged. Now mankind joined together, with no seas to separate them, in the presence of the Magnificent One!
There were others that Kris recognized as well. Abdul, the handsome Turk, walked with his wife and his sons and daughters. Rupert, Pat, Elizabeth and Martin strolled through the wood. Elizabeth joyfully pointed out new wonders as they walked! Each of them greeted Kris with the deep warmth one has for the teacher who has opened new vistas to them! Here were Willa and Joe, with their loved ones strolling through what could only be called a grove of hollyhocks... or were they hibiscus? The flowers were ENORMOUS! Willa carried a smaller one... brilliant blue, picked for her especially by Joe, who knew she loved that color. Butterflies and hummingbirds, some more brilliant than any ever seen on the old Earth, abounded here. Joe's granddaughter Kate seemed to be their family's guide through this wonderland. They each embraced Kris warmly when they spotted her. Each embrace seemed tied to the Magnificent One's blessing: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Kris' daughter and Kate, who had painted Zimmerman's reproduction of the 'School of Athens' together with her joined arms with Kris and together they shared the ongoing discovery of new wonders.
Some theologians will likely have problems with the notion that there are people, with arms locked, SKIPPING together in Heaven. I offer them no apologies, for the three women in our story were most assuredly doing just that. For their comfort it might be best to omit the description of some of the more magical creatures as well. It is safe to say the three women had come pretty close to describing them in their childhood sketchbooks! Now they patted their noses! All the while they recognized and called to friends they had known in the old world. They called to them as well. Kate, Kris and Kris' daughter were caught up in an ongoing and glorious reunion.
It is worth mentioning at this point that these are the names they were known by on the old Earth. Kris called them by names that seemed to overflow with some deep knowledge of the Magnificent One! Somehow she knew these names, though she'd never been told them. Women she'd first met as tough truck stop workers now gently embraced her with their loved ones and she addressed them with similar holy names! Families born of redeemed lives eagerly embraced the instrument of their redemption! Also, it is worth noting that Willa, who had lovingly introduced the World Unseen and the Magnificent One to scores of preschool children was also one of the few like Kris and her husband who heard the commendation; "Well done, good and faithful servant."
In fact it was Willa who, if one bothered to count (and in this new world you don't), received the most and the most sincere embraces. She instantly remembered the faces of children she'd taught in her first fourth grade class in rural Virginia. Now seeing them as grown men and women, she nonetheless recognized them instantly and knew their new and holy names. Their wives and children also had to embrace the one who the Magnificent One had used to breathe His life into their families. There were parents and grandparents too. Her love was the unspoken sermon that won their hearts. There were the twins she had known as Anthony and Antinio, though she called them now by new names... once mischievous children, now strong and brown young men! Indeed they were son's of the Magnificent One!, captured by His love as seen in the vessel of their slender young teacher! Joe was caught up in the wonder of the stories that sprang like fruitful branches from the life of his wife. It did not matter to him that he did not have so many as he immersed himself in the joy of learning hers.
Joe did see Chris. Though neither of them was wearing an 'Intercontinental Logistics' shirt with the name embroidered on it anymore, they needed no one to tell them the NEW names by which they greeted each other. Chris could argue all he wanted with Joe's words and thoughts, and he could poke holes in Joe's failures to live up to what he professed to believe, but he was hard pressed to try and explain away the way Joe was sustained by WHO he believed in. In the end that was what Chris knew was real as his rig plunged into the icy waters of the Bering Strait. Both men embraced Abdul when they saw him. The young Turk had hungered for what he saw in men like Joe. He had endured the withdrawal of his family and threats on his life to find it. He had had dreams of this place, and the Man who gave it life. He had been blessed with a lovely wife and children... who walked with him now in this garden. They had suffered much and died at the hands of those who opposed the Kingdom they now knew as their home.
One often wondered what you remembered in Heaven and what you forgot. Now it was clear that knowledge had only GROWN. Knowledge of the Magnificent One filled places in your being that you didn't know needed to be filled. Indeed one could remember as but a cloudy dream, things from the past. Earth had been remade in a fiery rebirth. One knew that, but it was rather like the time Zimmerman had read the words 'Citizen, Soldier, Educator' on that statue in a college quadrangle. The man so referenced had also lost a leg in battle, but here on the quadrangle there was no smoke, no pain, no blood, only the peaceful light through the trees and the memory of a life that had been lived... no man's life is totally well-lived, but that is the part that remains vivid in the memory. In fact, Kris saw this man and Rupert strolling together in a deep and animated discussion. It reminded her a little bit of the dialogue that had long gone on between Rupert and her husband. The difference was that now Zimmerman wore no anxiety and suffered no torment in the process. The man who inwardly had struggled so hard to find his place in the world seemed quite content and at home in the world he now occupied.
History was remembered, but the Master of History had made it His Story. There were indeed some who were not here that one had known in the Old Earth. Their lives were not forgotten, but they were remembered in the context of the Magnificent One's patience, "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Indeed, one was aware of how the Magnificent One had wooed them. The Magnificent One wiped away tears; and His presence so filled you, that somehow you were made whole.
But now something new was about to happen. "Come!" said the voice Kris had first heard joined with her in song. Now on the Hillsides of a New Earth, all were gathered as the Great Jerusalem came down to join the Earth... "as a bride adorned for her Husband."
Behold, I make all things new."
Now that light that had first filtered through the trees was seen to have its origin from within the Great Jerusalem that descended. If you think of the finest feast of celebration you have ever enjoyed, the best family or church picnic on a beautiful day; you will come closer, but nowhere close to the feeling of this time when mankind sat down to enjoy a shared meal with the Magnificent One at the end of the world... or was this the BEGINNING?, yes, I believe that is a more truthful observation; and that, dear reader, is the one I will leave you with
Oriental Poppy. Photo by Kristina Elaine Greer
Hibiscus. Photo by Kristina Elaine Greer
In Isaiah 60 [1.] and in Revelation 21 Believers look to a New Heaven and a New Earth where a Heavenly Jerusalem descends to join the Earth. Here is a Kingdom that needs no temple, needs no sun to light it, for G-d Himself is the force that illuminates it! [2.]
And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from G-d out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and G-d himself shall be with them, and be their G-d." -- Revelation 21:1-3
Journey to Jesus, a mural depicting the nations coming to Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth described in Revelation 21. Mural by Kristina Elaine Greer and Bob Kirchman
Journey to Jesus [click to view larger images].
Our Christian hope is that we're going to live with Christ in a new Earth, where there is not only no more death, but where life is what it was always meant to be." -- Timothy Keller.
The hope of Heaven and New Earth.
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