1 Peter 4:13-16
Where is heaven?
When I was a young child I had the idea that Heaven was above and Gehenna was below. This was confirmed and reinforced by the images of heaven I was shown. But as I grew older this didn’t seem to make much sense. I was a child of the space age. How far would we have to send out our spaceships before they found heaven? And as to the other place, well, Jesus never spoke of people being "cast down." In the parables about the kingdom of heaven the image was always one of being "cast out."
So the question arose for me, where is heaven? Today’s readings lead to other questions along the same lines: if Jesus said, "I am with you always," how is it that He’s taken up to some far off place and leaves the apostles? And what does it mean that, "This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven."
In the Acts of the Apostles today we read that, "a cloud took Him from their sight." In both the Old and New Testaments clouds are often used as a sign of God’s presence or kingdom. Jesus said the kingdom of God (heaven) is near, at hand, among you, within you, between you. If we weave these images together today’s readings begin to make more sense. Jesus has indeed entered into the kingdom of God–the kingdom of God that lives within us and between us as the Body of Christ. This is the Kingdom of God that is among us. This is "the cloud" that has hidden Jesus from our everyday eyes.
So a new question arises: can I learn to look with new eyes, can I allow Christ to enter into me, so that I live in Him and allow Him to live in me, so that I can experience and share the Risen Christ?
Talib Huff is a lay volunteer at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.