About fifteen years ago our family watched the Ring Cycle by Wagner. The end of the Norse World must wait until the the fat lady sings (i.e. valkyrie Brunnhilde). Once she sings its time for the opera’s finale. The opera is about 15 hours long. At more than one part, we were thinking, “How long is…?”
Today, storm clouds signal the end of the world. As Yeats wrote:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
How much longer do we have?
What do you do when the storm clouds harass you?
Memories past coupled with an uncertain future makes my stomach churn.
Scripture asks us to turn to the cloud of witness (cf. Hebrews 11).
When the black death took out hundreds of millions of people (50%) of Europe, Christians turned the cloud of witnesses, the 14 helpers of God. Jennifer Gregory Miller, lists them:
- George (April 23rd) soldier-martyr
- Blaise (also Blase and Blasius) (February 3rd), bishop and martyr
- Erasmus (also St. Elmo) (June 2nd), bishop and martyr.
- Pantaleon (July 27th), martyr
- Vitus (also St. Guy) (June 15th), martyr
- Christopher (also Christophorus) (July 25th), martyr
- Denis (also Dionysius) (October 9th), bishop and martyr
- Cyriacus (also Cyriac) (August 8th), deacon and martyr
- Acathius (also Acacius) (May 8th), marty
- Eustace (also Eustachius, Eustathius) (September 20th), martyr
- Giles (also Aegidius) (September 1st), hermit and abbot
- Margaret of Antioch (July 20th), virgin and martyr.
- Catherine of Alexandria (also Catharine) (November 25th), virgin and martyr
- Barbara (December 4th), virgin and martyr
If you were raised Protestant, you don’t know Denis from Eustace. The idea of asking for help from the cloud of witnesses isn’t in our spiritual golf bag. The only club we use is Scripture. But in the 60’s, Chuck Smith and John Wimber opened the door to spiritual gifts. We learned how to unwrap and use spiritual gifts. The Charismatic movement opened the door to a more complete understanding of God’s church.
God uses all the parts of His body in heaven and on earth.
For example, St. George’s speciality (spiritual warfare) is different than St. Blaise (throat problems). As I Corinthians suggests, we don’t all have the same role on earth or in heaven. My aunt Sally might have the gift of healing. I ask Aunt Sally to pray for me. As she drives home, Aunt Sally loses control of her VW and dies. What happens to my prayer request? Is it lost forever in the heavenly cloud or does it gain the clarity of heaven as she becomes a part of the cloud of witnesses?
In heaven and on earth, the people who pray the most effectively are those who are the best witnesses. Did you notice that everyone of the 14 helpers of God is a martyr (literally the ultimate witness)? If I ask John the Baptist to give me courage to share the faith, do you think there might be a bit more unction than if I ask Aunt Sally?
When Charismatics refer to an “open heaven” there are on to something
Jesus speaks and we listen.
Jesus says the same thing to the Church in heaven as He does to the Church on earth. The difference is how we listen. We do our best to rid ourselves of things that stand in the way of authentic hearing. However, in heaven, there are no obstacles. Heaven speaks with one voice. Heaven listens with one ear.
Revelation 3 states: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Jesus is knocking but we have to undo the latch. Why would anyone want to open the door? Jesus tells us he wants to have fellowship with his children. That is a good motivation. All of us practice the presence of Christ. Jesus also wants us to practice the presence of his family
Jesus has a large family in heaven wanting to share their lives with us.
In God’s opera, the martyred saints cry out “how long Lord?” But it’s not over until “the lady clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head…gives birth to a son will will rule the nations with an iron scepter.” (Revelation 12).