by John Blase
I love the Olympics. I especially look forward to the opening ceremonies when the different countries start filing in the stadium one at a time. The flag bearers, the regalia of the athletes, and the excitement on their faces always move me to tears. As I watched the other night, I had this kind of simultaneous broadcast/vision thing going on in my head. Hold on.
Imagine THE DAY - the people of God filing in the before the presence of the God of the Angel Armies. Due to their alphabetical status, the Anglicans are to be first, but they are distracted when an Assembly of God asks, Is the Lord here? The Anglicans all stop and say, He is! And as they’re waiting for the next liturgical response, the Assemblies yell, Gotcha’, and rush past. After a moment of contemplation, the Anglicans bust out laughing and say, Good one. Next in line are the Baptists, decked in blue-blazers and button-downs. They march in like good little Vacation Bible School kids, each holding the Word in front of them in case a bible drill is suddenly called. These groups begin to mingle (remember, this is heaven) and pass the peace and greet one another with holy cheek kisses, when who to their wondering eyes should appear, but the Catholics. And there is a hush in heaven as several A’s and B’s prepare to ask the C’s how in the heaven they got in. But then Johnny and June Cash start humming Amazing Grace and the A’s and B’s say, We’re so glad you’re here. We always hoped it would be this way, but in our narrowness, we doubted your love of Christ. Dear God, forgive us. And the C’s say, You think you’re surprised? We had no idea. But oh, how beautiful this is. Some of those candles we lit were prayers that it would be this way. And then they all begin snapping pictures with their camera phones as the pigs fly overhead.
The Episcopalians are next in line, surprised at their numbers. Garrison Keillor leads the Lutherans who all seem above average. A merry band of Methodists make a b-line for the Baptists as they recognize kinfolk. The Pentecostals come in having sufficiently warmed-up, with the Presbyterians and the Quakers chanting something about the last being first. A youth minister suddenly grabs a guitar and starts to lead everyone in something safe for the whole family when Gabriel cautions, All things are possible, but not all things are beneficial. And at that very moment an angelic orchestra begins playing Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. As the former things begin passing away, one of the first results is that everyone now loves classical music. All attention is then focused on the torchbearer to come through the gates. There is speculation as to who it will be, but no one knows for certain. And then we see him, the first Adam, running with the gait of redemption, as if he could run forever. He runs about a third of the way into the stadium and then stops for the handoff. But then a strange thing happens; he drops to his knees. On that cue, the mighty throng drops to their knees like sports fans doing the wave, for there in the middle of it all is the second Adam, Jesus the Christ. With burning hearts, we suddenly realize that He had been walking among us all along, just like He promised. Adam’s torch then goes out and we’re momentarily afraid it will grow dark, but then we remember that this is heaven; there is no need for light, for He is here. Jesus looks over the crowd of the redeemed like a mother hen admiring her chicks, then runs to the right hand of the Father and says, They’re all here. The Father then embraces the Son who winks at the Spirit who bear-hugs them both; then the Father declares, Let the days begin, of which there will be no end! And the people of God shout, Yes!