Glory to God

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”
- Acts 7:55-56 RSV

Dear Friends,

We forget sometimes that life is not about coping and survival. Our soul spirits do not want just to “get by” doing only the minimum requirements. At core, our soul wants to soar and thrive. Life is an undeniable vital source seeking to animate our mundane and material world around us. God created life to renew the earth - to put flesh and blood on to “dry bones” and God created our souls to thrive in a spiritual world of glory and joy. Deep in our hearts is that vibrant desire to shine - even in the darkest of moments. Remember the song by Graham Kendrick (1987):

Shine, Jesus, shine Fill this land with the Father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word Lord, and let there be light.

Shine Jesus Shine (worship video w/ lyrics) on YouTube

When John Wesley was in his 87th year he felt his body growing weaker. He wrote (Telford, 1898):

I am now an old man, decayed from hand to foot.
My eyes are dim; my right hand shakes much; my mouth is hot and dry every morning;
I have a lingering fever almost every day; my motion is weak and slow.
However, blessed be God, I do not slack my labour: I can preach and write still.

Like Wesley, the year before his death, we often feel the limits of our physical bodies, as well as the deteriorating nature of our houses, cars, and everything else made of material. In our spirit, however, no decline is required. By nature, the spirit wants to soar and behold the wonders of the universe and see the glory of God. Definitely, we are creatures of two natures - physical and spiritual. Remarkable is the account of Wesley’s death. On the day before his death (Telford, 1898) Wesley praised God for his saving grace and sang “To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Who sweetly all agree.” Later that evening a number of friends gathered around him and after they rose from prayer:

[...] he grasped their hands and said, “Farewell, farewell.” When
some one entered, he strove to speak. Finding that his friends could
not understand what he said, he paused, and with all his remaining
strength, cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us.” Then,
lifting up his dying arm in token of victory, and raising his feeble
voice with a holy triumph not to be expressed, he again repeated the
heart-reviving words, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

The scene is reminiscent of Stephen’s vision in chapter 7 of Acts when he sees “Heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” just moments before the crowd stoned him to death. With his dying breath, he cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (vs 60).

Death for Wesley and Stephen, in material terms was a tragedy; but in spiritual terms, it was a liberation because the sight that really counts is not that which the eyes behold but that which the spirit can see - regardless of the circumstance. In the same way, the picture at the top of this article reflects the mood of one of my favorite songs, Athair Ar Neamh (Father in Heaven). Like the song, the picture and our God-given spirits reach to the top of the universe and find God everywhere - in the trees, in the sky, in the light, and in the darkness. The mood of the song is very comforting and deep. It assures us that the heavens need only be a breath away. You can find it at: Athair Ar Neamh (Father in Heaven) - Enya on YouTube.


‒ Pastor Jim

Reference: Telford, J. (1898). The Life of John Wesley. Chapter 21. NY: Eaton & Maine.