The Great Departure

At First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, we are currently celebrating Advent.  I invite you to imagine with me what Advent looked like in heaven…

The angels were going about their business as usual.  Some were singing praises.  Some were preparing blessings.  Some were running errands from heaven to earth.

Michael, an archangel, was passing by the throne, when he saw something he could hardly believe.  His eyes got as big as cantaloupes.  His heart fluttered like a propeller.  The King had stood up.

Michael had passed by the throne countless times before, and the King was always sitting down.  Always.  But for some reason, the King had risen to his feet.  Michael thought, “Maybe this is what Gabriel was talking about.”

He ran down the golden streets, shouting, “It’s time!  It’s time!  Everyone, come quickly!”  The angels smiled at each other.  “It’s time,” they repeated.  They flocked toward the throne.

Michael ran off into the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, clapping his hands, waving his arms, and shouting, “It’s time!  It’s time!”  Doors began to open, heads peaked around corners, and people slowly came out onto the streets: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses, Miriam, Deborah, Elijah, David, and others.  Moses said to Elijah, “Do you think it’s the appointed time?”  “I guess so,” Elijah said.  “Let’s go!”

Michael, breathing hard now, took off back toward the river of life.  It was flowing gracefully, as always, with a sparkle in every ripple.  As he approached the water’s edge, he jumped into the air, gliding across to the other side.  He shouted to the hosts of heaven by the riverside, “It’s time! Come quickly!”  They scrambled to their feet and flew toward the throne.

Michael covered every inch of the kingdom, ensuring that all of heaven heard the news.  When he got back to the throne area, he saw a scene unparalleled in the history of the kingdom.  All the hosts of heaven were lining the street that leads to the throne.  Both sides of the street were populated with angels and saints standing shoulder to shoulder.

The King had begun walking down the street.  His stride was steady and strong.  The golden crown glimmered upon his brow.  The train of his robe trailed him by 40 feet or more.   On the front of the robe was the letter “Alpha,” and on the back, “Omega.”

The angels were singing louder than ever, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts!  Heaven and earth are full of his glory!”  As he passed the tree of life, its leaves fluttered in the breeze.  As he passed the river of life, it flowed with the power of an ocean and the peace of a pond.  As he passed the book of life, it blew open and pages flapped against each other, seeming to multiply.

The hosts of heaven continued to sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and who is to come.”  The music swelled as the King approached the end of the road, where it meets the jasper walls and the pearly gates.  He lifted his right hand, and the singing stopped. 

He reached out his arms, grabbed the gates, and threw them wide open.  He turned to face the crowd.  Heaven was on tiptoe.

The King’s eyes were teeming with compassion; his face glowed with grace.  Slowly, in the silence, he removed the golden crown from his head and laid it on the ground.  He took off his royal robe and left it in a heap on the street.  With that, he stepped off the streets of gold and departed through the pearly gates.

And so a baby cried in Bethlehem.  And salvation was ours.

 

Pastor Noel Schoonmaker

First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN