The Kingdom is Here
An anonymous reflection of Camp Celebrate.
One of my favorite illustrations of Heaven was given to me by an old preacher I once knew. He describes Heaven a great feast. At this feast, the guests have their arms bound in front of them in such a way that they cannot bring their hands to their mouth. But this does not stop them from enjoying the food that has been set before them. Instead of serving themselves, those at the feast humbly and joyfully serve each other, lifting the food to their neighbor's mouth so everyone can partake of the blessing set before them.
As I've been sitting here watching the third day of Camp Celebrate begin, I've been struck by the thought that what I'm seeing is a view of God's Kingdom to come. Camp is blessed with an incredible diversity of age, ability, race, faith, income, language, and so much more. But for all our diversity, nothing separates those who have gathered here. I'm reminded of Romans 8:38-39, which states:
"So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,[a] fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!" (The Passion Translation)
I am watching God's passionate love being poured out by everyone here. Two hundred souls have gathered together not just for a week of Camp, but to share in the blessing of God's love. I see it everywhere I go, from the kids playing together, some of whom don't even speak the same language, to the young woman laughing with a camper nearly twice her age. Everywhere I look, people who have had their arms bound in front of them, some by choice, some by circumstance, are turning to their neighbor and blessing them with the feast.
Watching this experience, watching all the artificial barriers the world creates be destroyed by the inherent holiness of unity, the Kingdom of God seems more than real.
Heaven is here at Camp Celebrate.
When the cares of the world are cast aside, when love is put before all else, when grace abounds in each moment, when those with no common thread but their desire to encounter God come together, Heaven cannot help but exist in this place. Heaven is more than a place, it is an experience. It is an experience of the purest form of God's love for us, when he shows us his grace and blessings, and all he asks in return is that we shower this love on those around us, to turn to our neighbor and say, "I cannot bless myself, but I can bless you. Join me in this feast!"
Blessings abound here at Camp Celebrate, but perhaps the greatest blessing of all is the vision of Heaven that is offered here. The vision of a place where nothing separates us, and we are united in God's love. Where young and old rejoice together, where able and disabled celebrate the feast, where no power can separate us from the love of God that fills this place through the work of everyone here.
When you experience love, barriers fall.
When you experience joy, pain disappears.
When you experience Heaven, Earth will never be the same.